Big news: The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is set to be voted on by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Thursday July 12th at 9am!
This is huge because once they vote yes (and it's highly likely that they will since there is virtually no opposition to it within the Committee), the treaty will move to the Floor and hopefully be ratified just in time for the anniversary of the ADA. Activists will be visiting each one of the Committee members from Monday-Wednesday to encourage them all to attend the hearing and vote Yes. Once the hearing is over and the Committee has OK'd the treaty, there will be a national effort to contact senators of all 50 states and urge them to vote in favor of the Convention and show the nation that the entire community of disability and veterans' rights advocates supports this treaty.
The CRPD is an essential piece of human rights legislation that will serve as part of a global effort to protect the equality and dignity of persons with disabilities everywhere. It is essentially the Americans with Disabilities Act globalized and will help to ensure that nations around the world will offer the (up until now) nearly unsurpassed civil rights protection that the US has offered. For the US itself, it will provide the opportunity for us to reiterate our commitment to civil and human rights and will provide greater strength to our existing laws. However, the beauty of the CRPD is that it will not require the US to enact any new laws or lose its sovereignty to the UN, as many feared. This is because the treaty is modeled after our already in-place ADA.
At this point, well over 100 nations have ratified (made law) the treaty and many more have signed it, which is the first step to ratification.
It really is a shame that the United States is so late to the game. The treaty itself was inspired by us and our leadership within the area of civil rights, and yet we have been (in my opinion), shamefully hesitant in showing our support. It's a given that once we ratify, many more nations will follow, increasing the necessity of our ratifying as soon as possible.
I'm looking forward to Thursday as evidence that the US is still willing to fight for all people's rights in all countries.