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Obama Administration to Sign the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Nahal Zamani,
Human Rights Program
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July 24, 2009

Great news! Today, on the 19th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, President Obama announced that his administration will be signing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in a ceremony to be held at the United Nations headquarters in New York next week. The CRPD is the first comprehensive human rights treaty adopted in the 21st century with extraordinary input by people with dis­abilities and progressively promotes their human rights.

The CRPD is revolutionary as it describes disability “not an individual’s condition but rather as the flawed interaction between that impaired condition and society’s lack of adaptation to it, departs radically from conventional thought and is a core concept of the Convention.” writes ACLU Disability Rights fellow James Felakos in an essay published earlier this year.

If ratified by the Senate, the CRPD will be the fourth major human rights treaty ever adopted by the U.S. promoting accessibility for and working to achieve the full realization of economic, social and cultural rights for persons with disabilities.

James stated today:

If adopted by the United States, the CRPD would inspire a more vigorous and comprehensive approach within the U.S. to address the myriad injustices still suffered by persons with disabilities…We look forward to the Senate’s ratification of the CRPD.

Much work remains to be done, but this is a significant step forward for disability rights. Unfortunately, when it comes to human rights treaties, the U.S. is out of step with the world, having only ratified three human rights conventions (the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention against Torture and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination). We hope that the signing of the CRPD signals a policy shift, and will pave the way for vigorous debate and action on enforcing human rights obligations. This act will benefit all us here in the U.S. and allow us to once again lead by example.

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