Last week an important step was made when the United States signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This is the first Human Rights treaty that we have signed in almost a decade. It also came shortly after the 19th year anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
More than 650 million people (54 million of whom are Americans) currently live with a disability – that represents nearly 10% of the population. Although the convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was adopted by the UN General Assembly as far back as December of 2006, the US didn’t sign it because the Bush administration maintained that disabilities were a domestic issue and that the international treaty would weaken protections afforded to Americans by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Unlike the Bush administration, President Obama believes that “disability rights aren’t just civil rights to be enforced here at home. They are universal rights to be recognized and promoted around the world,” President Obama said when he announced the US would sign the convention at a celebration for the anniversary of the ADA. US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice also said “this treaty urges equal protection and equal benefits under the law for all citizens, it rejects discrimination in all its forms, and calls for the full participation and inclusion in society of all persons with disabilities.”
So what happens next? President Obama will send the convention on to the US Senate, which will have to ratify the convention in order to make it binding US law. Overbrook Foundation grantee, Mental Disability Rights International (MDRI) is working in coalition with the US International Council on Disabilities, and Eric Rosenthal, the Executive Director of MDRI, serves as co-chair of the Committee on CRPD ratification
If you’re interested in learning more about the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities click here.