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International Disability Rights
DREDF Deeply Disappointed by US Senate Opposition to Global Disability Rights Treaty
December 4, 2012
Despite the support of over 300 disability rights and veterans organizations, the US Senate failed to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) today, with a final vote of 61 Senators in support and 38 Senators opposed. By not ratifying the Treaty, the US fails to advance the human rights principles it once championed in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the landmark disability civil rights law upon which the CRPD is largely based.
The US has a powerful role to play as a partner and ally in supporting the global human rights of people with disabilities. Our country provides an example of how our rights can be advanced. That our rights matter. The principle, Nothing about us without us, is global.
"The loss of the CRPD has real effects on our lives as people with disabilities, and that includes people in the US. We travel, we work beyond US borders. Equally important, people with disabilities in other nations need an effective CRPD supported by a strong US role. The opposing Senators have disregarded our economic freedom today," said Susan Henderson, DREDF Executive Director. "It's critical that we renew our commitment to putting people with disabilities in positions of power so we can defeat this opposition in the future."
The CDRP has been ratified by 126 other nations and has bipartisan support. The CRPD was derailed in the Senate by a lockstep block of 38 conservative Senators who falsely claimed that the Treaty would result in events that varied from a loss of US sovereignty to the loss of parental rights of children with disabilities.
The fight on this vote ended today but the disability community will continue to fight on.
DREDF thanks the 61 Senators who voted Yes and suggests community members join us in doing so by calling or contacting their respective legislators. Each deserves our strong encouragement to continue supporting the CRPD.
The next step involves the 38 Senators who voted No on human rights for people with disabilities both here at home and around the world. Let them know that we refuse to be treated like second class citizens.and that we vote.
The Senate Switchboard number is (202) 224-3121.
Read more about the reaction to the vote, including a quote from DREDF's Rhonda Neuhaus, in Boston Globe article.
United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD)
Responding to increasing pressure from the international disability community, the U.N. General Assembly adopted on December 19, 2001 a resolution to create an Ad Hoc Committee "to consider proposals for a comprehensive and integral international convention to protect and promote the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities," a resolution that was first passed by the General Assembly's Third Committee on November 28, 2001.
Momentum towards achieving a convention built with the passage of a Resolution on a comprehensive and integral international Convention to promote and protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities by the Commission for Social Development. The Resolution recommended the adoption of the convention by the U.N.'s high–level Economic and Social Council, including the convention's requirement for ECOSOC to remain apprised of the matter.
At its Eighth session, held on August 14 – 25, 2006, the Ad Hoc Committee adopted the draft text of the Convention including an optional protocol, as a whole, without a vote. The Ad Hoc Committee decided to establish an open-ended drafting group tasked with ensuring uniformity of terminology throughout the text of the draft convention and harmonizing the versions in the official languages of the United Nations. The drafting group reported on the results of its work to a resume session of the Ad Hoc Committee held during the sixty-first session of the General Assembly in order to enable the Ad Hoc Committee to forward the finalized text of the convention to Assembly for final adoption. The Plenary of the General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on December 13, 2006.
Advocates have maintained that while existing U.N. human rights treaties, which increasingly have been interpreted as encompassing disability, offer significant potential to advance the rights of individuals with disabilities, these general treaties have been widely underutilized in the area of disability discrimination. The process of recasting disability policy internationally from the charity or medical model to the social model unquestionably would accelerate if human rights instruments were employed more frequently on behalf of people with disabilities. The Disability Convention, however, will unequivocally establish and elevate disability to its rightful place as an internationally recognized and enforceable human rights concern.
Professor Gerard Quinn of the Law Faculty at NUI, Galway has been elected to two prestigious committees in recognition of his work on international disability law.
Professor Quinn, who is a member of the Irish Human Rights Commission, has been made the 'focal point' for the work of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) on disability. NHRIs are composed of human rights commissions or similar bodies from around the world and are co–ordinated by an International Coordinating Committee based in the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva.
The UN's General Assembly adopts the convention on disability
The UN Division for Social Policy and Development has more information and related documents.
Interactive resource guides, providing information to help DPI members and others work for ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.