August 22, 2018

United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

About 10 percent or 650 million people in the world have disabilities. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is an international human rights instrument. The United Nations General Assembly adopted the text on December 13, 2006. The CRPD aims to protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities. It sets forth globally accepted legal standards on disability rights and clarifies the application of human rights principles to persons with disabilities. The CRPD also serves as an authoritative reference point for the development and refinement of relevant disability law and policy and is intended as an instrument that is cross-disability and applicable across economic sectors. Global implementation of the CRPD will benefit not only citizens of countries that have not previously ensured protection of these rights, but also Americans with disabilities and their families traveling to or working within those countries. The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities monitors the Convention.

As of January 2014, 158 nations have signed and 147 have ratified the Convention. In July 2009, President Obama signed the CRPD. The Administration transmitted it to the Senate for advice and consent to ratification in May 2012. The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations (SFRC) held a hearing on the Convention in July 2012 and later that month reported the treaty favorably to the full Senate by a vote of 13 in favor and 6 against, subject to certain conditions. In December 2012, the Senate voted against providing advice and consent to ratification of CRPD by a vote of 61 to 38. The treaty was automatically returned to SFRC at the end of the 112th Congress. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held hearings on the CRPD on November 5, 2013 and November 21, 2013. The Committee is expected to hold a mark up on the resolution of advice and consent for the CRPD in the near future.

The ABA urged the United States to ratify and implement the UN-CRPD in its 2010 Resolution 108B. The ABA again urged ratification in letters to members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2012 and in 2013, as well as a letter in 2012 urging Senators to support ratification.