For Immediate Release

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Rachel Myers, (646) 206-8643;

US Signs International Treaty on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities

Move Is Critical to Reassuming Leadership on Human Rights, Says ACLU

NEW YORK - The United States today signed the most comprehensive international
treaty on the rights of persons with disabilities in history. Susan
Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, signed the U.N. Convention
on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) at the organization's
headquarters in New York City. If ratified by the Senate, the 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 this important step by the Obama
administration to reengage the U.S. in international human rights

"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. "By signing the CRPD, the U.S. will reassume a leading role in
the promotion and stewardship of human rights at home and abroad."

The CRPD, signed by 140 nations
since May 2008, has significant overlap with the Americans with
Disabilities Act and the other U.S. laws protecting disability rights.
In addition, it provides a holistic and inclusive approach to defining
disability, recognizes past discrimination in addressing problems
individuals with disabilities encounter in society and includes
specific articles related to the rights of women and children with
disabilities. Under the CRPD, 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.

"If adopted by the United States,
the CRPD will inspire a more vigorous and comprehensive approach in the
U.S. to addressing 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."

During his campaign, then-Senator
Obama promised that he would sign the CRPD. The Bush administration
chose not to sign the Convention, even after participating in the
negotiating sessions that led to its drafting. Under the U.S.
Constitution, after the Senate gives its advice and consent to
ratification, a treaty becomes law.

The U.S. has also signed but has yet
to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the
Child, two major human rights treaties that have significantly
contributed to the protection and promotion of the rights of women and
children worldwide.

An essay by Felakos on the CRPD is available online at:  

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




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