Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The CRPD and Two World Views

U.S. News and World Report featured two opinion pieces on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on January 20, 2014. One  was by Christopher Neiweem,  Director of VetsFirst, a program of the United Spinal Association, in favor of ratification. And the other was by Steven Groves with The Heritage Foundation, against ratification.

No one can predict or guarantee how much or how fast the world will change for the better with regard to people with disabilities if the CRPD were or were not ratified. However, what we have in these opinion pieces is two very different views of what will happen. Neiweem sees more accessibility and greater opportunities for veterans with disabilities and others with disabilities. Groves sees the Constitution unraveling and our system of government being jeopardized.

If you consider the underlying values in the CRPD-- nondiscrimination on the basis of disability and equal opportunity --  you realize that the objective is to change behavior, to set standards for how people with disabilities are treated. The hope is that individual behavior and government policies will increasingly embrace the values expressed in the CRPD. How these values can have negative consequences of the nature and magnitude that Groves suggests, defy logic.

The U.S. and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) were a good match. Things changed for the better. The ADA was a model for the CRPD. Everyone admits these two facts -- the ADA was a good thing and it was a model or the CRPD. With ratification we restore our full partnership as a champion of human rights with the world community. Without ratification we raise doubts about our sincerity and commitment to disability rights both here and abroad. We give ammunition to our detractors. We lose the opportunity to shape the nature and progress toward an accessible world for all. We run the risk of marginalizing market openings for American business. 

On balance ratification of the CRPD is the best course. The other alternative is too much of the "chicken little" syndrome that, in effect, doubts the strength of our Constitution and the effectiveness of the checks and balances in our system of government.

If you agree with me that ours will be a bright future if we ratify the CRPD, then please let the Senate know -- first the members of the Foreign Relations Committee and then, all Senators. Let's settle this now. 

Thank you.
Common Grounder

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