Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Catch-22 Situation

Other than the PBS News Hour piece on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on last week, there has not been a big splash of news stories or commentary on the treaty. Some of us had hoped the Paralympic Games would provide a trigger for wide-based exposure, and then enthusiasm, for the treaty. I am still searching for that. Some put out a call for personal stories. I have no idea how many people responded to that. Two of us launched a petition on the White House website, asking the White House to urge the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Committee to move the CRPD to the Senate floor. In a little over two weeks we got 77 signatures. We need 100,000 by April 1, 2014. Senator Menendez, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told the MS Society, when it gave him an award last week, that ratification of the CRPD is a priority for him.

Since December 20, 2013 when Senator Corker, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Alexander, both from Tennessee, said they opposed the ratification of the CRPD, we have not seen additional statements of an intent to oppose the CRPD.

What does this assortment of facts suggest?

Advocates' enthusiasm for pushing for ratification is waning in the absence of concrete progress.

Opponents of the CRPD are going to kill ratification. They just have to wait us out.

The treaty text and ratification process are too complicated and it's hard to talk about them in 30 second sound bites.

No matter how many ways and how many times you say the CRPD is a good thing, people just don't connect it to their lives.

There is an absence of courage among those who support the CRPD to demand that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee take action. God forbid we tick them off.

There is a reluctance on the part of the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to take action now because public support is not loud enough, big enough, or powerful enough.

I'd say all of the above are valid.

We are in a Catch-22 situation. Those in charge fear sharing concrete evidence of progress. They view the silence of the opposition as a good thing. Somebody has to move.

Waiting is not a strategy. The situation is not going to improve. All of us with an interest in the ratification of the CRPD must find it within ourselves to take the necessary actions to make ratification happen now.

Thank you.
Common Grounder

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