Paralyzed Veterans of America is continuing its push for the Senate to ratify a treaty that would promote and protect the rights of people with disabilities in more than 150 countries. Sign the petition in support of the CRPD at this link.
US Secretary of State John Kerry Delivers a Video Message on the CRPD
The Convention for the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, a treaty modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act, is an agreement by more than 150 countries to “ensure and promote the full realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all persons with disabilities without discrimination of any kind on the basis of disability.”
Despite bipartisan support in the Senate, ratification of the treaty failed late last year on a 61-38 vote, with 67 votes needed for ratification. The Senate will again take up the treaty as part of the 113th Congressional session, but not until after the Senate Foreign Relations Committee holds a hearing on it, said Lee Page, associate advocacy director at Paralyzed Veterans of America.
“Paralyzed Veterans has been pushing to have the hearing, but it’s between the chairman and the ranking member to come up with a time period, and currently, they can’t come up with an agreement as to when to do that,” Page said.
Secretary of State John Kerry voiced his support for ratification of the treaty in a YouTube video on Aug. 9, 2013, noting that the treaty will show America’s leadership on protecting and promoting the rights of individuals with disabilities, included disabled veterans.
“If you’re a disabled veteran who risked life and limb in service to our country, our joining this treaty will help ensure that you can work, you can study, you can travel abroad with dignity and respect, knowing that hotels, restaurants and businesses will be accessible to you,” Kerry said.
Kerry also emphasized that that ratifying the treaty will place no new onerous mandates on America, but rather calls on other countries to do what America did 23 years ago in passing the Americans with Disabilities Act. “Joining the disabilities treaty isn’t about changing American behavior,” he said. “It’s about getting the rest of the world to treat people with disabilities and raise them to our level.”
Paralyzed Veterans is encouraging its members and chapters to continue to contact their Senators’ offices to urge them to vote to ratify the treaty.
“The Americans with Disabilities Act has been a big beacon on the Hill that everyone has looked to,” Page said. “The best part about this treaty is that other countries are now recognizing that they have a population and their citizens are in need of protections. The treaty serves as an umbrella for them to look up to so they can implement their laws and reach the goals of what this treaty aspires to.”
Learn more about Paralyzed Veterans of America's efforts on behalf of all people with disabilities
Brittany Ballenstedt is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in several publications, including Government Executive, National Journal, Technology Daily and NextGov.com.