Twenty-two years ago, on July 26,1990, the American Disabilities Act was signed, and this year on July 26, 2012, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was voted favorably out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and sent to the Senate floor. This is the last leg of a long journey for this human rights document in the United States.
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is an international human rights instrument that the United Nations adopted on December 13, 2006. The Convention is designed to expand community access and improve the standard of living for the estimated 650 million people around the world with disabilities. It is the first new human rights convention this century.
On May 17, 2012, following almost three years of thorough inter-agency review, the Obama Administration submitted its treaty package to the Senate for its advice and consent for ratification.
“The rights of Americans with disabilities should not end at our nation’s shores,” President Obama wrote in his request to the Senate. “Ratification of the disabilities convention by the United States would position the United States to occupy the global leadership role to which our domestic record already attests.”
As of July 2012, the international Convention has 117 ratifications and 153 signatures. The Convention provides a framework for countries to enact and enforce legislation that recognizes the rights of all people with disabilities and is based on our own ADA. Since the U.S. has been a leader in ensuring rights for individuals with disabilities, ratification does not require changes to laws in the U.S. Ratification would signal to the world that the U.S. is committed to international standards for disability rights and will play a leadership role in implementation of the treaty obligations.