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U.S. needs to support International Disability Rights

U.S. needs to support International Disability Rights

Gary Arnold urges the Congress to pass the legislation ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. In The Huffington Post Arnold writes:

…On December 4, one day after the anniversary [of the International Day of People with Disabilities], the Senate is expected to vote on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. Introduced by the United Nations in 2006, and signed by President Obama in 2009, the treaty gives people with disabilities around the world the rights and protections necessary so that they may live independently and productively.

Since May, when President Obama submitted the treaty package to the U.S. Senate for ratification, the treaty has garnered strong support, earning full support from Senate Democrats. The treaty is also endorsed by Republicans, including some current members of the Senate, and former leaders such President George H.W. Bush, Senator Bob Dole and former U.S. Attorney General Richard Thornburgh. In the time that remains before the vote, treaty advocates hope to rally enough bipartisan support so that the community may celebrate the ratification of the treaty just as the community celebrated the signing of the Americans with Disabilities by President Bush in 1990. Yet, opposition threatens the two-thirds majority needed to ratify the treaty.

Who opposes it? The New York Times reveals it is former Presidential candidate Rick Santorum and others who believe the “one world government conspiracy theory.”

Owens relates some reasons for passage among which are giving activists a place to advocate for those in countries where their lives are at risk:

As a person with dwarfism who sits on the board for Little People of America, losing that voice would have a devastating impact. I recently read an article from a magazine published by Little People Uganda, which serves people with dwarfism in Uganda. The article was written by a young man with dwarfism who had recently celebrated the birth of his daughter. The baby’s mother was an average stature woman. In the article, the young man wrote that his newborn child was murdered just days after birth by her maternal grandmother. In the article, the father wrote that his baby was strangled to death “just because her father was a dwarf and probably she was a dwarf.”

Sadly, as a member of a non-profit volunteer board, I can do little more than express outrage over, mourn over, and write about such a tragic story. That’s one reason why the United States needs to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. The treaty will give me a platform upon which I can speak out and advocate on behalf of people with dwarfism in other countries. More importantly, ratification gives the United States a voice to shape disability policy worldwide, and tool to protect and make concrete change on behalf of people with disabilities worldwide.

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