U.S. Senate Fails to Ratify U.N. Convention on Rights for the Disabled
Posted on Dec 24, 2012
The U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities is a document adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 13, 2006. Countries who are parties to the convention are required by international law to actively protect and promote the rights of the disabled and ensure that citizens with disabilities are afforded the same rights and protections as nondisabled individuals have. These rights include:
- The right to live independently
- The right to be included in the community
- The right to participate in political and public life
- The right to personal mobility
- The right to habilitation and rehabilitation
- The right to have access to roads, buildings, and information
The treaty is modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act, which was enacted in the United States in 1990. The treaty established a committee that recommends actions to governments to improve conditions for the disabled, but it cannot require governments to take any specific actions. Currently, 126 countries support the treaty. The United States does not.
On December 4, 2012, the U.S. Senate voted against ratifying the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities. Although the measure received 61 votes in favor of ratification, 67 votes were needed. Thirty-eight Republicans voted no on the treaty. Opponents include former presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who argued that the treaty could be used as a standard in court cases, even though only U.S. law can be used a basis for litigation in this country’s courtrooms. Other Republicans may have voted against the treaty out of distrust of the United Nations, according to one news report. Republican supporters included Senator John McCain of Arizona and former Senator Bob Dole of Kansas. Both men are disabled.
According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 15 percent of the world's population lives with a disability. President Obama signed the convention in 2009.