A good friend of the family asked me if I heard of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. He said that he didn’t really follow politics but knowing that I am a writer he figured that I would have some insight into this. You see, my good friend has grown up with a disability and is very interested in everyone, disabled or not being able to function in the world like everyone else; and rightfully so. As a mother of two disabled children, stepmother to one disabled child and a sister to two disabled siblings, I too want my family to have a life full of opportunities no matter what disability they may have. I told my friend that I heard something about the treaty last year but it apparently failed to get the votes for ratifications so I forgot all about it. I was curious as to why talk of this treaty was making a comeback. It seemed rather odd that I haven’t heard anything about it in the news. After a brief search I found that the treaty is being pushed once again for ratification in the US Senate.
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is a UN Treaty that was drafted in 2006 to ensure that all persons with disabilities have equal protection as well as accommodation for their particular disability worldwide. Among many rights, the treaty focuses on the right to education, healthcare, employment, and the rights of the disabled to handle their own personal affairs. About 138 countries have ratified this treaty so far, but last year’s attempt to have the United States ratify the CRPD failed by 5 votes in the senate. Many advocates have come out in full force to try and convince people why it’s imperative that the United States join the other nations in ratifying this treaty. Many disability rights organizations have employed spokespersons like Guinness World Record Holder Jessica Cox and Matthew Reeve; son of actor Christopher Reeve to convince the US Senate to ratify this treaty. Even Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth urged the Senate to ratify this treaty on the basis it will protect our disabled citizens as they travel overseas.
Although this treaty on the surface sounds like a great idea; no one can give a legitimate reason for pushing the United States to ratify said treaty. It has been pointed out in many articles that the CRPD is modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act and that the United States set the gold standard on how the rights of the disabled are protected. Therefore, by ratifying this treaty it does nothing to improve the way our country treats the disabled.
Congresswoman Duckworth’s assertion that this treaty will protect our citizens overseas is a fallacy that has been sold by many. Our ratification of any treaty will not change the laws in other countries just because the person who may be affected is an American. Another fallacy that has been debunked by the Heritage Foundation is this treaty will protect our wounded veterans. There is nothing in this treaty that gives special exceptions to our wounded warriors. The Heritage Foundation also pointed out that the idea of ratifying the treaty will give the United States extra credibility with regards to the treatment of the disabled is also false. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has been helping the disabled worldwide for years through funding and the development of programs. Also, it’s hard to say that ratifying a treaty will give the US some sort of global street cred when said treaty is modeled after our law. I’d say that’s the epitome of street cred right there.
So, with all these examples debunked, one is still left with the question of why so many people are pushing so hard to make the US ratify this treaty. The only answer I can come up with is there are groups who feel that the US should relinquish some of our sovereignty to the global community. Sen. Ted Cruz, who opposes the CRPD gives a prime example in Medellin v. Texas of how this treaty can undermine the sovereignty of our nation while Sen. Orin Hatch states:
The treaty also spells out what adherence to its principles in these many areas will require. Ratifying nations must enact, modify, or abolish not only laws and regulations at all levels of government – federal, state, and local – but also social customs and cultural practices. Ratifying nations must refrain from engaging in any acts or practices that are inconsistent with the treaty as well as ensure that all public authorities and institutions act in conformity with it.
This is a treaty that does nothing to improve the standing of the disabled in our nation and our ratification will do nothing to influence its ratification across the globe. A prime example is the fact that it has been ratified by 138 countries without our input. We do not benefit from this treaty and by the looks of it we will wind up losing another part of our freedom on order to feel more inclusive globally. In order to protect our sovereignty we must push our senators to deny the ratification of this treaty of face the overreach of a global body on our rights and freedoms.