If my research is accurate, 193 countries belong to the United Nations (U.N.). Of that number, 143 have ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The U.S. has not.
Being among the countries that agree to implement laws consistent with CRPD principles is a two-step process. First a country must sign the CRPD. Then the country’s legislature (like our Congress, but in this case only the Senate has responsibility for ratifications) must ratify it. As I said, the U.S. has not ratified the CRPD.
To emphasize that startling fact – we are in there with the last 23 percent – countries like Libya, Sri Lanka, Chad, Bhutan – that have not ratified. Here are some more facts. There are 128 members of the European Union (as of July 2013). Of these, at least 124 have ratified the CRPD. Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand also have ratified the CRPD. What is the U.S. afraid of? Clearly the European Union countries, as well as English-speaking countries, are as legally sophisticated and concerned about sovereignty, separation of powers, abortion, and parental rights as we are. And yet, they found a way to ratify the CRPD. We have had plenty of time to think about these issues, to research how others have addressed these issues, and to compile and weigh solid legal options.
Just look at the timeline:
Dec. 13, 2006 U.N. General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons
Jul. 30, 2009 U.S. signed the CRPD.
May 17, 2012 President transmitted CRPD to the Senate for its advisement and
Jul. 11, 2012 Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) held the first hearing on
CRPD (112th Congress).
Jul. 26, 2012 SFRC, on a vote 13-6, passed the CRPD out of committee.
Dec. 4, 2012 CRPD failed to pass during a full Senate vote (61-38, needed 67) (112th
Nov. 5, 2013 Senate Foreign Relations Committee held the first hearing on the
CRPD in the 113th Congress.
Nov. 21, 2013 Senate Foreign Relations Committee held the second hearing on
the CRPD in the 113th Congress.
It is now March 22, 2014. Primaries are looming. Relations with Russia are deteriorating. No one can honestly say that a window of opportunity for ratification of the CRPD will open up later in 2014.
I don’t think we need more time. We need a reason to act. There are enough votes to get the CRPD voted out of committee. If we see a move like THAT there are plenty of us ready to reach out TO EACH SENATOR, with passion, conviction, and compelling, tailored arguments for the CRPD. Really, people with disabilities, a ton of veterans, and others are poised. Please, SFRC give us a reason to move out and make the final push for ratification of the CRPD!