The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Maria Archuleta, (212) 519-7808 or 549-2666;

Obama To Sign International Treaty On The Rights Of Persons With Disabilities

ACLU Welcomes Announcement On The ADA's 19th Anniversary


a celebration today of the 19th anniversary of the passage of the
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), President Obama will announce
that he will sign the most comprehensive international treaty on the
rights of persons with disabilities. If ratified by the Senate, the
United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
(CRPD) will be the fourth major human rights treaty ever adopted by the
U.S. and the first it has adopted in the 21st century. The American
Civil Liberties Union welcomes President Obama's reengagement of the
United States in international human rights efforts.

"This is a great day for the rights
of people with disabilities and a step forward for the U.S. human
rights movement," said Jamil Dakwar, Director of the ACLU Human Rights
Program. "In signing the CRPD, President Obama will place the U.S. back
into a leading role in the promotion and stewardship of human rights at
home and abroad. The United States is far too important a country to
remain on the sidelines of such vital work."

President Obama will sign the CRPD next week at the United Nations headquarters in New York City.

The Convention, signed by 140
nations since May 2008, has significant overlap with the ADA and the
other U.S. laws protecting disability rights. However, the Convention
provides a holistic and inclusive framework around which disability is
defined. It also addresses the problems individuals with disabilities
encounter in society by accounting for past discrimination and includes
specific articles related to the rights of women and children with
disabilities. Under the Convention, ratifying countries are obligated
to prevent discrimination against, promote accessibility for and work
to achieve the full realization of economic, social and cultural rights
for persons with disabilities.

"Nothing could make today's
celebration of the ADA - one of the most important pieces of civil
rights legislation ever passed - more complete than President Obama's
announcement that he will sign the Convention," said Deborah J. Vagins,
Legislative Counsel for the ACLU. "Every one of us in America and
around the world deserves equal opportunity, economic independence and
full participation in society."

During his campaign, then-Senator
Obama promised that he would sign the CRPD. The Bush administration had
chosen not to sign the CRPD, although it did participate in the
negotiating sessions of the Convention. Under the U.S. Constitution,
after the Senate gives its advice and consent to ratification, a treaty
becomes law.

"If adopted by the United States,
the CRPD would inspire a more vigorous and comprehensive approach
within the U.S. to address the myriad injustices still suffered by
persons with disabilities," said James Felakos, a Disability Rights
Fellow with the ACLU. "We look forward to the Senate's ratification of
the CRPD."

Felakos' essay on the CRPD is available at:

Information about the ACLU's work on the rights of disabled persons is available at:

The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

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