Miller & Thornburgh: Sign UN Disability Convention!
A treaty that took effect in May could benefit one quarter of humanity: the 650 million people, as well as their families, who live with disabilities. The U.N. International Treaty on the Rights of People with Disabilities is also the first international treaty that guarantees the rights of such people to equality and self-determination.
People with disabilities are the world’s largest minority, yet the United Nations reports that only 45 countries have disability rights laws.
The U.S. hasn't signed the treaty, either, but it should.
The U.S. pioneered rights for people with disabilities when Congress enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act and other disability rights laws in 1990. As former political officials of two different presidential administrations, one Republican and one Democratic, we strongly believe that the U.S. should ratify this treaty. We believe that it is consistent with American law. It incorporates many of the principles in U.S. law, such as full inclusion and the right to reasonable accommodation. Disability rights are and should always be a non-partisan issue.
In far too many nations, people with disabilities lack rights to vote, work, marry, own property, sign contracts or retain custody of their children. Ninety percent of children with disabilities in less developed nations receive no education. In every nation, people with disabilities are the poorest of the poor. The U.S. is no different: 70 percent of people with disabilities who want to work remain unemployed, despite the fact that such people demonstrate better retention rates than workers without
The treaty will change these statistics. Since the U.N. opened the treaty for signatures just over a year ago, 24 nations have ratified it. An additional 103 nations have signed the treaty, signaling intent to ratify it soon, and commitment to refrain from contradicting its purpose and object.
The treaty enshrines important principles that Americans hold dear: non-discrimination, equal protection under the law and the right to autonomy and independent living in integrated, community settings.
Labels: International Disability Law