Ratify Disability Treaty now

By From page A8 | November 21, 2013

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has for a second time taken up the United Nations Disability Treaty in support of equality for all people with disabilities around the world. This treaty is consistent with our nation’s interests and values and the Senate should ratify it immediately. We will not get a third chance.

The Disability Treaty, officially named the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, is an international framework for countries to embrace the rights and dignity of all people with disabilities. Noncontroversial as that may be, the treaty actually fell victim to political posturing in the Senate last December — failing ratification by five votes.

This treaty was inspired by U.S. legislation. It is embarrassing that the U.S. has failed to join 126 other countries in ratifying it. The U.N. Disability Treaty was modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act, which values independence and respect for disabled people by promoting reasonable accommodations — as basic as wheelchair ramps.

This treaty would not in any way impede U.S. sovereignty or change our nation’s domestic laws. Moreover, as with all treaties, it would not hand power to the United Nations or any other international body to change U.S. laws. Rather, it would advance our country’s high standards for the treatment of people with disabilities to other nations around the globe.

For the nearly 58 million Americans — including more than 5 million veterans — who have one or more disabilities, global accessibility standards will help improve safety in travel, study and work abroad. Imagine the impact this treaty would have for 1 billion people who live with a disability worldwide.

The time is now for the Senate to pass this commonsense global framework on behalf of equality for all people. The next Senate hearing on the treaty will be Thursday. Please call Sen. Barbara Boxer’s office at 202-224-3553 to voice your urgent support for ratification.

Verena Borton
President, United Nations Association, Davis chapter

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