July 30th of 2009 found the United States of America signing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
The CRPD is the first human rights convention of the 21st century, as well as the first international treaty that addresses disability rights on a global scale. The convention does not establish new human rights; instead it presents greater clarity of the obligations on nations to protect, promote, as well as ensure the rights of persons with disabilities.
For example; Article 3 of the Convention presents General Principles that apply to the rights of persons with disabilities, such as:
Equality of opportunity
Equality between men and women
Full and effective participation and inclusion in society
Respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity
Respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy, including the freedom to make one's own choices, and independence of persons
Respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities
Key nations; who are also allies of the United States, have already ratified the CRPD. These nations include Canada, Australia, Mexico, South Korea, New Zealand, and a number of the nations in Europe.
America already has the Americans with Disabilities Act; why should it ratify the CRPD
The Principles of the CRPD, in a similar way to the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), involve nondiscrimination in politics, access to justice, equal treatment, employment, rehabilitations, and education. The CRPD desires to ensure that persons with disabilities around the world receive the same rights as everyone else, making sure they have the opportunity to live full, productive, and satisfying lives. Through this effort, the CRPD establishes an international monitoring body referred to as the, 'Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Committee makes recommendations regarding ways to best implement the treaty's principles and vision. America needs to ratify the CRPD if it is to have a seat on the Committee and have the opportunity to guide other nations in the development of disability laws which may achieve success.
The Goals of the CRPD
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) desires to ensure that people around the world who experience forms of disabilities are provided with the same rights as non-disabled persons. The CRPD wants to make sure persons with disabilities live full, productive, and satisfying lives. America, through the ADA, has made progress towards the goals of inclusion, full participation, equal opportunity, economic self-sufficiency, and independent living for people with disabilities. The CRPD desires to use the principles of non-discrimination in politics and access to justice, equal treatment, employment, rehabilitation and education to enhance the lives of persons with disabilities. The signing of the CRPD by the United States of America is a first step that demonstrates this nation's global leadership in regards to the advancement of disability rights.
What is the Status of the CRPD in America
Now that America has signed the treaty, the Administration is conducting an inter-agency review process. The process is one designed to prepare a CRPD transmission package for consideration by the Senate. The Administration's review includes an assessment of whether existing United States law is consistent with the requirements within the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). America already has strong and established support for the rights of people with disabilities through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as well as the amendments to it.
After the Administration has completed its review, it will transmit the CRPD package to the Senate for consideration. Ratification of the CRPD by the United States requires a, 'Resolution of Ratification,' that can be achieved by two-thirds support in the Senate.
America signed the CRPD on July 30th, 2009.
President Obama and his staff need to prepare a treaty transmission package and send it to the Senate. In the United States Congress, it is the Senate's responsibility to ratify treaties. In order for a treaty to be ratified by the United States Senate, a super-majority vote or two-thirds of the Senate's approval is required. If the treaty passes, the CRPD is then returned to President Obama for his signature. Once the ratification process has been completed, the treaty, 'enters into force,' which means the treaty then becomes the law of the land.
If the CRPD is Ratified, What Then
Should the CRPD achieve ratification and enter into force, the United States would be required to implement all of its provisions. The CRPD does not create new rights; instead it seeks to strengthen the rights people with disabilities already have, as well as principles. The CRPD contains thirty-three provisions or substantive articles that detail how disability rights should be both interpreted and applied in order to prevent discrimination. The CRPD also adopts a flexible and broad approach which allows for the legal particularities of America to be taken into consideration.
A Short Background of the CRPD
The United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in the year 2006. The CRPD was officially opened for nations to sign on March 30th of 2007; it is now 2011. The Convention, 'entered into force,' meant it became law for nations that ratified it on May 3rd, 2008. America signed the CRPD on July 30th, 2009 - joining more than one-hundred and forty other nations that had already signed the treaty. Signing of the treaty creates the obligation to not violate the object and purpose of it, yet State Parties are not bound to uphold the specific obligations of the CRPD until they ratify it. One-hundred and three nations have ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities - yet at this time America has not. It is this writer's greatest hope that America ratifies the CRPD as quickly as possible.
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