Senate Should Ratify UN Disability Rights Treaty
The U.S. Senate recently renewed its discussion of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the UN’s first comprehensive human rights treaty of the 21st century. Based in part upon the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Convention establishes international goals for social inclusion, accessibility, independence, and economic self-sufficiency for the world’s 650 million individuals with disabilities. As the first UN convention specifically to address the rights of persons with disabilities, it calls upon signatories to fight stereotypes and to build awareness of the capabilities of people with special needs.
In addition to advancing an international vision of human rights, the Convention would benefit U.S. citizens with disabilities who reside, conduct business, or otherwise travel abroad. By promoting the same protections and accessibility worldwide that they are entitled to in this country, it would expand the opportunities available to them through the global economy.
Although 700 advocacy groups have voiced their support for the treaty, which has already been implemented in 138 countries and signed by President Obama, the Senate has yet to ratify the Convention, falling five votes short in December 2012.
This was largely due to a misinformation campaign claiming that the Convention threatens U.S. sovereignty, a charge discredited by former attorneys general from both major political parties. Various “reservations, understandings and declarations” have been proposed by the Administration to ensure, in the words of former Attorney General Richard Thornburg, “… that the U.S. will not accept any obligation except as mandated by the Constitution and the laws of the United States.”
It is anticipated that before year’s end, the merits of the Convention will again be debated on the Senate floor. Sixty-seven votes are required for ratification and to date, 61 senators have pledged their support.
This nation has been in the forefront of the fight for disability rights, and its failure to ratify this treaty is an embarrassment. Approving it would demonstrate our continued commitment to the values reflected in the ADA, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and similar groundbreaking legislation.
The Special Needs Alliance recently joined other members of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) in signing a letter to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, urging ratification of this significant non-discrimination treaty. I encourage you to contact your senators, asking them to do the same.Posted: November 18th, 2013 | 2 Comments »