UN Disability Treaty Clears Senate Committee
Two years after rejecting an international disability rights treaty, the U.S. Senate is poised to reconsider the matter.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by a 12 to 6 vote Tuesday.
The treaty, which establishes an international standard for disability rights similar to what’s already in place domestically through the Americans with Disabilities Act, is now headed to the full Senate where it would need a two-thirds majority vote to be ratified.
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This is the second time that the U.N. Convention is making its way through the Senate. The same committee also approved the treaty in 2012 before it failed on a largely party-lines vote that year in the full Senate.
A coalition of more than 800 disability, civil rights, faith, business and veterans organizations favor ratification. But the treaty has faced stiff opposition spearheaded by the Home School Legal Defense Association. The group contends that the treaty would compromise U.S. sovereignty and threaten the ability of parents to determine what’s best for their kids.
Proponents of the measure say such concerns are unfounded. Ratifying the treaty would not require any change to American law, but would allow the United States to take a leadership role in the international community on disability rights issues, supporters say.
The U.S. signed the U.N. Convention in 2009, but Senate approval is needed in order to make participation official. At present, 146 countries around the world and the European Union have ratified the treaty.