Tuesday, December 4, 2012

US Senate Refuses to Approve UN Disabilities Treaty

As widely predicted in the media, US Senate Republicans were successful today in blocking the U.S. adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  Under the U.S. Constitution, 2/3 of the 100 Senators must vote in favor of a treaty for ratification to occur.  The vote was 61-38 in favor, but was five votes short of the 2/3 needed.

The UN Disabilities Treaty is aimed at banning discrimination against persons with disabilities. It is based in part on the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act. Opponents claimed that the U.S. should not ratify the treaty because it undermines U.S. sovereignty and it would interfere with parental decision-making with respect to children with disabilities who are home-schooled.  Article 24 of the Disabilities Treaty provides for equal access to education, but does not directly address home-schooling.

Another concern sometimes mentioned is the possible affect on abortion law.  The treaty does not directly address abortion either.  Rather, Article 23 provides that States shall take effective measures to ensure that:  "The rights of persons with disabilities to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children and to have access to age-appropriate information, reproductive and family planning education are recognized, and the means necessary to enable them to exercise these rights are provided."

126 other States have ratified the treaty.  Once again, the US has failed to demonstrate leadership and commitment on the international level with respect to the protection and promotion of human rights.




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