There They Go Again!

by Michael Ramey

The State Department and President Obama renewed the administration’s call for U.S. ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), a dangerous U.N. treaty that would greatly diminish parental rights for those whose children suffer disabilities. It is unfortunately clear that is not alone in hoping to sway the Senate regarding CRPD ratification before their session reconvenes in September.

On Friday, August 9, the State Department released a John Kerry video and published a new web page promoting ratification of the treaty. Neither featured any new arguments or citable facts. Rather, they echo the same inaccurate arguments that have been pushed since the middle of last year. Still, their publication demonstrates that the State Department is not letting the lack of accurate information halt their push for ratification.

Then on Saturday President Obama delivered a speech before the Disabled American Veterans in which he renewed his commitment to the treaty as well. In his comments, Obama said,

“I know how disappointing it was last year when the Senate failed to approve the Disabilities Treaty …. But we’re going to keep fighting to ratify that Treaty, because the United States has always been a leader for the rights of the disabled. We believe that disabled Americans like you deserve the same opportunities to work and to study and to travel in other countries as any other American. It’s the right thing to do. We need to get it done.”

To his credit, he did not literally make any claims that the treaty would benefit anyone – but he strongly implied (as Kerry out-right claimed) that its ratification would protect the rights and opportunities of Americans with disabilities when they travel abroad. Not surprisingly, of course, he also did not explain how this could be, since ratifying a treaty does not bind any nation but our own.

Well, there they go again! Unfortunately for treaty proponents, the Administration’s assertions about the treaty do not become truer through repetition.

Perhaps the two most frequent claims are that the treaty will help Americans with disabilities when they travel abroad, and that it will not reduce Americans’ parental rights. Here again is the truth on each of these assertions.

Ratifying the CRPD will not help Americans with disabilities who travel abroad. The treatment Americans receive in other countries depends on the laws in those countries, not the laws of the United States. (If the opposite were true, the Americans with Disabilities Act would already be protecting Americans abroad.) Chief Justice John Marshall as early as 1825 said, “No principle of general law is more universally acknowledged, than the perfect equality of nations…. It results from this equality, that no one can rightfully impose a rule on another.” This principle is still true today; our ratification of a treaty is only binding on us, not other nations. Their law is based on their own ratification and how they choose to implement it.

Ratifying the CRPD will negatively impact parental rights in America. Article 7(2) of the treaty establishes that “[i]n all actions concerning children with disabilities, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.” This “best interests” principle has already been interpreted by international legal scholars as giving bureaucrats the authority to override the decisions of the parent or the child, provided it is in the best interests of the child. Further, its inclusion in the treaty makes it the responsibility of the federal government, and not parents, to determine what is in a child’s best interests.

Michael Ramey is Director of Communications and Research at the ParentalRights.Org. His article first appeared at

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