The Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities
Posted on July 20, 2012 by Ann Conrath, Public Policy and Advocacy Intern
On Wednesday, July 18, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was supposed to take up the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), a treaty that includes obligations to promote, protect, fulfill, and ensure the rights of persons with disabilities. The intent was for the committee to take up the CRPD in time for a vote by July 26, the 22nd anniversary of the American’s with Disabilities Act. However, senators who have yet to support the CRPD have delayed the markup and votes needed for ratification.
At its core the CRPD holds respect for the inherent dignity and autonomy of people with disabilities as principles. Ratification of the CRPD would reaffirm the United States’ serious commitment to equal treatment and non-discrimination in access to justice, health, education, employment, and rehabilitation for people with disabilities. It is an opportunity to advance these values worldwide.
“People who are deaf cherish their own language. The CRPD is the only international human rights instrument in the world that recognizes deaf people and their language,” says Thomas Green, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Systems Change Advocate.
The United States would be able to encourage other countries to implement the CRPD to achieve the high standard of accessibility that the United States has embraced and provide expert training and support, benefitting the millions of U.S. citizens abroad. This treaty encourages and strengthens the importance of continuing to progress toward the goals of inclusion, equal opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for Americans with disabilities.
Not only will this treaty create a more universal perspective that accessibility and equality need to be a central focus when crafting policies, but also decrease barriers for travel to or employment in other countries. These are certainly aspects of the CRPD that we can all relate to.
We are at the tipping point between ratification and rejection. Recently, there has been some serious opposition to this treaty. Those who oppose the CRPD are concerned that the treaty could dictate how they teach or raise their children. However, this is not the case.
"In cases where existing US law may not be consistent with the CRPD, the treaty package proposes reservations, understandings, and a declaration (RUDs) that confirm that by ratifying CRPD the United States is not undertaking any international obligations inconsistent with current domestic U.S. law. Thus, no change in law and no additional costs are required for the United States to ratify the CRPD. For example, the treaty package proposes adopting a reservation that the U.S does not accept any obligation to regulate private conduct under the treaty, except as mandated by the Constitution and law of the U.S. (USICD,n.d.)"[i]
There is still time to build support for the CRPD before the ADA anniversary on July 26th. Please contact Senator Blunt to let him know that you support ratification of the CRPD, and want him to vote in favor of the rights of people with disabilities by supporting the CRPD!