The State Department marked the 23rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) this week by touting the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
As Heritage expert Kim Holmes points out in The Washington Times, the United States already has the most effective system in the world to protect those with disabilities. Ratifying CRPD would not advance the interests of Americans with disabilities but would only erode American sovereignty.
Proponents of CRPD say they hope that it will inspire those abroad to respect the rights of disabled persons, but they readily admit that it will have little effect on things at home. As Steven Groves of The Heritage Foundation argues, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Fair Housing Act, and the ADA have created the legal framework that protects Americans with disabilities better than the residents of any other country, including those that have ratified the treaty.
The State Department notes Secretary of State John Kerry’s claim that “ratification is the single-most important step the United States can take to promote our accessibility standards internationally.” This is mistaken. Holmes explains that since the U.S. ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights two decades ago, other “member states such as Ethiopia, Iran, Russia, and Uzbekistan continue to abuse their people’s rights.” The U.S. may have inspired other nations to sign it, but they have not implemented it. Similarly, countries that have ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, such as Saudi Arabia, continue to subjugate women.
The CRPD is not just a redundant treaty that will have no effect on U.S. citizens at home or abroad. The CRPD would also erode American sovereignty. The U.N. committees that oversee implementation of treaties have a history of making recommendations contrary to American values and laws and irrelevant to the treaty in question. There is no reason to think it would be any different with CRPD.
The State Department is renewing its call for the U.S. to ratify the CRPD, but this would be a bad move for Americans of all abilities.