In 2017, then US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson eliminated the Special Advisor for International Disability Rights, a position established under the Obama Administration and held by long-time disability activist, and USICD board member, Judith Heumann.
October 28 2021 Update – President Biden Announces Sara Minkara as United States Special Advisor on International Disability Rights. Read the announcement here.
USICD continues to ask the US disability community and our allies to respond by communicating your support for:
- Senate Office of International Disability Rights Act (S. 3880 introduced on June 5th, 2020) to establish a permanent office of International Disability rights at the US Department of State and requires the appointment of an Ambassador-at-Large.
- Read the Press Release
- Track S. 3880 (We want a bipartisan bill)
- Read How to Contact Senators to Defend Global Disability Rights!
- House Office of International Disability Rights (HR 3373) passed the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs. The Bill establishes a permanent Office of International Disability Rights at the US Department of State and would require the appointment of a Special Advisor.
- February 2021 Update: Section 1006 of the State Authorization Act of 2021 includes the Officer on International Disability Rights, however the office is to be led by a Senior Advisor to the appropriate Assistant Secretary of State.
- Download our HR 3373 Call to Action Packet. The packet contains a letter from USICD’s President, Dr. Patricia Morrissey, a sample letter for you to send to Representatives in your state, with a list of Representatives to contact included on the last page.
- Contact the Representatives from your state to ask them to support HR 3373! Contact us to share that you have made the call or written a letter – tell us who you contacted!
- Read our Op-Ed on HR 3373, Office of International Disability Rights
- Read USICD Board Member Judith Heumann’s The Hill article dated 12/7/19 and titled The US needs to lead again on disability rights
Read USICD President, Dr. Patricia Morrisey’s editorial titled “The 30th Anniversary of the ADA: How Should We Celebrate?”
USICD wrote to Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, twice in 2017 in which no acknowledgment or response was received.
We sent a similiar letter to Secretary Pompeo in 2018. In these letters, USICD asked the Secretary to propose to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) legislation making the U.S. Special Advisor for International Disability Rights in the Department of State a permanent entity with authorization for sufficient standing (e.g. ambassadorship for the director), staff, and funding to be effective. This action is crucial for enabling the US State Department to more effectively respond to global disability rights issues around the world.
Instead, Secretary Tillerson chose to eliminate the position entirely and proposes relegating the current disability mission under the Office of the Secretary to the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL). We urge the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) support the establishment of the Office of International Disability Rights and to appoint a Disability Advisor at USAID. Additonal background information:
USICD’s 2018 Letter to Secretary Pompeo with courtesy copy sent to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
USICD’s Past Letters to Senator Rex Tillerson
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s Letter Proposing Elimination of Office of International Disability Rights at the Department of State