The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is an international commitment of the United Nations to protect the rights of persons with disabilities. Countries signed on will work to protect and provide equality, inclusion and dignity for people with disabilities on a global basis.
It was an honor for me to be at The White House when President Obama signed this treaty on July 24, 2009. Who knew it would be 2013 and it is still not ratified?
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has been already ratified by 127 countries and the European Union; 153 countries have signed on!
In the United States, we have a group fighting to see this ratification realized. Sadly, the United States, who is looked at as a world leader in disability rights lost the fight for ratification on the Senate floor on December 4, 2012 by five votes…only five votes! Our community shared our message with those who didn’t vote in support of the ratification…”Shame on You!”
We in the disability community must ask those Senators why? Although false information about this UN Convention inhibiting the right to home school children and limiting sovereignty was spun to the media, bi-Partisan support was firm. So, you must ask why? Why would a handful of Senators vote “no” to the ratification of the CRPD when it protects veterans with disabilities world-wide? Do you know that all of the Veterans Groups supported the ratification of this treaty? We all want to see our servicemen and women treated with dignity and respect throughout the world.
So why? I have to think it was a lack of courage…courage to vote for what is right…courage to not be intimidated by a handful of individuals influenced by misinformation. We saw a failure of courage when Senators could vote “no” while Senator Dole who sat on the GOP side of the chamber, during the vote, with his wife Elizabeth, both supporting the treaty. Senator Dole is so committed to seeing the CRPD ratified that he was present at the vote after being released from Walter Reed Medical Center only a week earlier; at the age of 89, Senator Dole exemplified courage. He so wanted to see the CRPD ratified.
Former Congressman Tony Coelho, a leader in the support of the CRPD, has said we will not give up, and we will succeed. Tony has courage!
Senators who voted “no”, we ask that you get back your courage! We prefer to share our gratitude with “Thanks to you” versus continue our message of “Shame on you.”
We will not give up and we will fight with courage for the ratification of the CRPD for all people with disabilities throughout the world!