U.S. International Council on Disabilities Urges U.S. Senate to Approve Ratification for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

May 25, 2012



For Release: May 25, 2012

Contact: Esmé Grant

Office: 202-347-0102

Cell: 650-814-2106

Email: egrant@usicd.org

See Senators' Press Release and USICD's below.


U.S. International Council on Disabilities Urges U.S. Senate to Approve Ratification for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
USICD Applauds Bipartisan Group of Senators for Supporting Ratification

Washington, D.C. — Today, the U.S. International Council on Disabilities applauds the unified statement of bipartisan support for United States ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that has been issued by seven senators.  Last week, the Obama Administration submitted the CRPD to the U.S. Senate for its advice and consent for ratification.  In their statement, Senators McCain (R-AZ), Durbin (D-IL), Moran (R-KS), Harkin (D-IA), Barrasso (R-WY), Coons (D-DE), and Udall (D-NM) affirm that the treaty upholds the American values of non-discrimination and equal access for persons with disabilities in all areas of life.  The seven senators joined together in promoting the ratification of the Convention which will help protect Americans with disabilities who work and travel abroad from discrimination, including disabled American veterans, and help ensure that all Americans enjoy the same rights outside the U.S. as they enjoy at home.

"As the Americans with Disabilities Act provides guarantees that all people with disabilities including our wounded returning military personnel will be able to fully participate in the U.S., the ratification of the CRPD treaty will open the doors to the world for the same individuals. We as a society cannot afford to turn our backs on our wounded warriors, but need to afford them every opportunity for a productive and prosperous future in the United States and throughout the world," said Marca Bristo, President of USICD, the nonprofit organization that is leading advocacy efforts for the U.S. ratification of the CRPD.

“The ADA was the first major piece of domestic legislation in the world to address the discrimination, legal challenges, and physical and systemic barriers faced by individuals with disabilities.  The CRPD seeks to achieve the same goals worldwide and promote inclusion in all aspects of society,” said Bristo.

A United States delegation under the Bush Administration participated in the negotiations and drafting of the CRPD and the U.S. approved the treaty’s adoption in 2006.  Sending the CRPD to the Senate follows the U.S. signing of the treaty in July of 2009, and is the next step towards the United States joining the 112 countries that have now ratified this treaty. 

“The U.S. ratification of the CRPD will continue our country’s distinguished tradition as a world leader for people with disabilities as evidenced by the ADA,” said former congressman from California, the Honorable Tony Coelho, lead sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act and current USICD board member.  “We urge the U.S. Senate to swiftly approve the CRPD.”  

The CRPD is consistent not only with the ADA, but also with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and other U.S. disability laws. The treaty reflects core American values such as the dignity of the individual, access to justice, respect for the home and family, and access to education.  The CRPD does not establish new human rights. Rather, it affirms the strong history of disability rights laws in the U.S. that promote, protect and ensure the rights of persons with disabilities.

Ratification of the CRPD will allow U.S. participation at the CRPD Conference of States Parties and permit the U.S. to appoint a member of the CRPD Committee.  Through these mechanisms, the U.S. can provide and influence guidance on the implementation of the treaty and lend its expertise as more countries develop their own disability rights laws.  No changes to U.S. law are required by ratification. 

 “Americans with disabilities living and working abroad should be able to benefit from a world economy that’s fully accessible to all,” said Coelho.  “The CRPD will create a more welcoming environment for U.S. citizens with disabilities who live and work around the globe such as military veterans and their families.”

Over 150 national and local disability organizations support the ratification of the CRPD.  Notably, 21 leading veterans service organizations have joined the disability community in supporting the treaty, including Veterans of Foreign Wars, Wounded Warrior Project, the American Legion, and Disabled American Veterans. 

USICD is assisted in the development and implementation of a ratification strategy for the CRPD by its pro bono Washington counsel, Mayer Brown LLP.  “Mayer Brown is proud to represent USICD in its advocacy of an international treaty that protects disability rights, an issue with strong bipartisan support,” said partner Carolyn Osolinik, former Chief Counsel to Senator Edward M. Kennedy during consideration of the ADA.

USICD and its members are grateful for the early demonstration of bipartisan support that follows the tradition for issues involving disability rights.

 “The rights that Americans with disabilities enjoy in our country are today being emulated in countries around the world,” said USICD Executive Director David Morrissey. “U.S. ratification of the CRPD is a natural next step in U.S. leadership by affirming global standards regarding the equality of people with disabilities.”

For more information on the CRPD or USICD visit www.usicd.org.

#    #   #