Secretary of State John Kerry has a new, impassioned video appeal for the U.S. Senate to consent to ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Kerry’s speechwriters should have checked their facts, though.
Among Kerry’s mistakes and mischaracterizations are the following:
- “[The CRPD] will help protect the rights of Americans with disabilities when they live, work, travel, or study overseas.” It will not. There is absolutely no correlation between U.S. ratification of human rights treaties and greater respect for human rights in countries that have ratified the same treaties. To say otherwise is to mislead the American community of persons with disabilities—including America’s wounded warriors—by making promises that cannot be kept.
- “[The CRPD] is exactly like the Americans with Disabilities Act [ADA].” If the CRPD were exactly like the ADA, it would have sailed through the Senate without objection. It’s not, which is why it was rejected on the Senate floor last December. Senator Orrin Hatch (R–UT), a strong supporter of the ADA, pointed out the differences in a July 10 floor speech (text and video available here and here) where he rightfully warned of the dangers to American sovereignty posed by ratification of the CRPD. Oddly, the CRPD even fails to define what the word disability means (which is rather important for a treaty that purports to protect persons with disabilities). The treaty instead calls disability “an evolving concept” (not very helpful).
- “The [CRPD] does not contain one single onerous mandate.” Kerry has an odd understanding of the word onerous, since membership in the CRPD would impose upon the U.S. “obligations or responsibilities, especially legal ones, that outweigh the advantages.” Specifically, the treaty requires that every four years the U.S. must submit itself to examination by a committee of 18 supposed disability experts from around the world. Kerry must believe that it is not “onerous” to have the riot act read to you by political appointees from Thailand, Tunisia, Kenya, Uganda, and Guatemala—all of whom, supposedly, have a better idea than the U.S. of how to advance disability rights in the U.S.
- “Joining the treaty…won’t infringe on the rights of parents to decide what’s best for their children.” Advocates of homeschooling, such as the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), beg to differ. HSLDA chairman and co-founder Michael Farris stated at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing last July, “Thousands of homeschooling parents have children with special needs and disabilities. The ratification of this treaty is considered by our community to be the equivalent of an act of utter betrayal.”