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Senate Panel to Reconsider UN Disabilities Treaty

October 30, 2013|By Ryan Kaminski, Leo Nevas Human Rights Fellow
On November 4 and November 12, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations will again hold hearings to discuss the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CPRD).  The Convention is widely considered the international gold standard of advancing the human rights of the more than one billion disabled individuals around the world. It has also been endorsed by hundreds of disability, human rights, and veterans' organizations across the United States, including the U.S. International Council on Disabilities

The Obama Administration strongly favors the CRPD and has called upon the full Senate to move swiftly toward ratification. In August during remarks referencing the CRPD at the Disabled American Veterans Convention in Florida, President Obama declared, “We need to get it done.”

 

The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in July 2012 sent the convention for consideration by the full senate in a bipartisan 13-6 vote. In December, however, the Senate narrowly failed to ratify the Convention, despite uncharacteristically bipartisan support. In a particularly dramatic moment in the lead up to the vote, ailing former senator Bob Dole appeared within the Senate chamber, urging a positive vote toward ratification.

Ever since, CRPD advocates including, UNA-USA and the Better World Campaign, have been eager for the Senate to reconsider the CRPD. During the 2013 UNA-USA Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, Executive Director of the U.S. International Council on Disabilities, David Morrisey, and Obama Administration Special Advisor on International Disability Rights, Judith E. Heumann, addressed UNA-USA members on the CRPD.  Secretary of State John Kerry has also been vocal in urging the Senate to take up the treaty again. In August, Secretary Kerry declared, “I am proud to join with people all over the country to advance this cause. We are in this together because we believe in the promise of equality for Americans anywhere, and for people everywhere. It's time for action on the Disabilities Treaty.”

More than 70 percent of UN member-states have already ratified the CRPD.  It is largely modeled after the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Labels: Advocacy

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