International treaty on the rights of people with disabilities close to Senate Ratification

According to the United Nations, roughly ten percent of the world’s population is living with a disability. In 2006, the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) to protect every member of the international disabled community. As of July 2012, the Convention has 117 ratifications and 153 signatures by nations around the world.
The central purpose of the convention as stated by the United Nations “is to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.”

On July 30, 2009, the United States signed the CRPD. The United States still has not ratified the treaty. This critical human rights legislation has drawn together many of the country’s disability advocacy groups to work as one to push for ratification. In May of 2012, nearly three years since the signing, the Obama Presidential Administration submitted its treaty package to the Senate to discuss the rights of the disabled and to combat misconceptions often held by the general public about people with disabilities. Bi-partisan support was shown as the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Democratic Senator John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Dole came together to urge their colleagues to vote in favor of the a treaty that sought to correct these misconceptions on an international level. On July 26th, the 22nd Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the treaty 13-6.

Although ratification of the treaty would mean no change to the laws of the United States, it would have an effect on worldwide consciousness and discrimination towards those with disabilities said experts on the subject from the senate and the US Government. Furthermore, a statement from former Senator Bob Dole said, "U.S. ratification of the CRPD will improve physical, technological and communication access outside the U.S., thereby helping to ensure that Americans -- particularly, many thousands of disabled American veterans -- have equal opportunities to live, work, and travel abroad."

Now that the convention has been approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the next step is the full Senate. For ratification, the treaty needs the support of two thirds of U.S. Senators. Groups such as the United States International Council on Disability, which is led by Access Living’s Marca Bristo, are committed to building support for the treaty and for ratification. They continue to organize efforts to reach out to Senators and earn their vote in favor of ratification. To learn more and get involved visit the United States International Council on Disability Website.
Gary Arnold
Public Affairs Manager