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Obama Urges Senate To Ratify Disability Treaty


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Nearly three years after signing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Obama administration is asking the U.S. Senate to grant final approval of the treaty.

The United States signed the convention in 2009, but Senate approval is required in order to make participation official.

The convention is designed to expand community access and improve the standard of living for the estimated 650 million people around the world with disabilities. It is the first new human rights convention this century.

President Barack Obama officially sent the treaty to the Senate Thursday and asked lawmakers to ratify it.

“The rights of Americans with disabilities should not end at our nation’s shores,” Obama wrote in his request to the Senate. “Ratification of the disabilities convention by the United States would position the United States to occupy the global leadership role to which our domestic record already attests.”

It is customary for the administration to fully vet any treaty before it is transmitted to the Senate for approval, which accounts for the years that have passed since the convention was initially signed.

However, in recent weeks disability advocates had called upon Obama to act. That’s because the U.N. is expected to establish a committee in September to oversee the convention. If Senate approval does not occur before that time, the U.S. would not be eligible to join the inaugural leadership team.

“We would lose a huge opportunity to influence the committee,” said Jennifer Dexter, assistant vice president of government relations at Easter Seals.

Dexter says her group and others are now prepared to start lobbying the Senate for swift ratification.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities originated in 2007. When the U.S. signed the treaty in 2009, it was the 142nd country to do so.

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Comments (7 Responses)

  1. msamericanpatriot says:

    What happened to America’s sovereignty? By signing this treaty we are slowly signing it away. UN is nothing more that a one world government center and must be removed from American soil so she may start regaining her sovereignty back as well as her dignity. Both of which is her birthright.

  2. Sue Keller says:

    I’m up to here with token efforts and self-serving political rhetoric about rights. How about enforcing laws that protect the rights of children and adults with disabilities? How about funding special education? How about the Dept of Justice actually doing something substantive to protect kids with disabilities in our schools? How about requiring that schools have to disclose the educational rights of kids with disabilities from the get-go and at every IEP meeting, including what related services are available? I don’t need another handbook on how to file a grievance; there shouldn’t be any grievances if everyone knows and upholds IDEA in the first place.

    If America is the world leader in protecting the rights of people with disabilities, why has the Governor of the state of New York formed yet another agency tasked with remedying the abuses within the public school system’s special education system and group homes and institutions that house dependent, vulnerable, disabled adults? So, they now have an agency overseeing all the other agencies who have egregiously failed at protecting the disabled population of the state of New York.

  3. Tina Minkowitz says:


    Can you explain what you are referring to about a committee being set up in September to oversee the Convention?

    The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which exercises this function, has been in existence already since 2008, when the CRPD entered into force with the required number of ratifications.

    In addition, every September there is a meeting at UN headquarters in NY of the CRPD Conference of States Parties, with panels and presentations on aspects of the treaty and its implementation. Every second year, there are also elections of members to the Committee. Only States Parties (countries that have ratified) can nominate or vote on members of the Committee. All UN Member States, and any interested non-governmental organizations that have ECOSOC consultative status or that apply for and receive accreditation to this particular conference, are able to attend and participate in the conference generally.

    If there is something else that is in the works, I would be interested to know.

  4. Thomas C. Weiss says:

    I cannot fully express how anxiously this is awaited, or how very important this is.

  5. Mary Ann Calzada says:

    NO NO NO! We do not want decisions for Americans made by the UN! This convention is written with an incredible amount of latitude and gives the UN the ability to legislate law on US soil.
    Do you want Americans making decisions for Americans or do you want someone in the Hague who is completely disconnected from you and has no allegiance or accountability to you whatsoever in an electoral process telling you what to do?
    This gives sweeping control to the UN. As a parents of TWO children with special needs, I want to make the decisions and not someone 3,000 miles away.
    These protections already exist in the Americans with Disabilities Act. State sovereignty as it pertains to disability law will be taken away and given to the UN.
    People are jumping the gun thinking that this is good – for 3rd world countries with no disability laws, possibly but for the US it is NOT going to make things better.
    Do you want the UN to decide your child’s special education program? Decide on what is best for their care and medical well-being?
    Take a look at the resolution and look at the far-reaching ramifications it could have due to the weak language.
    Do NOT support this with your Senators!

    This is a political move on the part of the president to take away rights of parents and rights of all Americans when it comes to our own sovereignty. The UN does not decide for Americans – Americans do!

  6. Pat Tyler says:

    This is a much more comprehensive disability rights doctrine… don’t fear doing the right thing in the name of the old rugged American individualism. This is for persons with disabilities. We are part of a world community.

  7. DuggR says:

    As a person with a disability that does occupy my concerns on a daily basis but with the ability to function and be productive, I am completely against any ideas of any type of involvement with U.N. that needs to be ratified. Law of the Sea Treaty —- gone. Small Arms Treaty —- gone. We do not need the criminals that operate and direct the U.N. involved in American rights. How can it be a good thing when a genocidal president (Sudan) is appointed a position on the Human Rights Council. We do not need to be a part of this.

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