Disabilities Treaty Would Not Benefit Disabled Veterans

By Daniel Kochis

The Administration has been pressuring the Senate to approve the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) by claiming that the CRPD would benefit disabled American veterans traveling overseas. Nothing could be further from the truth, as Heritage’s James Carafano observes:

There is no evidence that Senate ratification of the treaty will prompt any foreign nation to build a single ramp to help someone in a wheelchair—veteran or non-veteran. Nor will any foreign country feel compelled to make their restrooms more accessible for American tourists. Human rights treaties do not work that way. In fact, they often don’t work at all.

These concerns prompted AMVETS, one of the largest veteran’s advocacy groups in the nation, to recently withdraw its support for the treaty on the grounds that it would do nothing to improve the lives of disabled Americans, including disabled veterans traveling overseas.

Indeed, the treaty actually undermines the very freedoms many veterans fought to preserve, most notably the sovereignty of the United States. By ratifying the treaty, the U.S. would become subject to a quadrennial ritual of being pilloried by a group of 18 “experts” on the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which administers the CRPD. Experts on the committee hail from such countries as human rights heavyweights Guatemala, Thailand, and Uganda.

The U.S. is already the gold standard for the world on protecting rights of persons with disabilities, with domestic U.S. laws already in existence that meet and often surpass the standards laid out in the treaty.

Finally, despite statements to the contrary by Secretary of State John Kerry, ratification of the CRPD may open the U.S. up to litigation from international actors, many of whom would seek to subjugate U.S. laws and legal decisions to those of international bodies.

Rather than making promises to Americans with disabilities that would never be realized, the Senate should follow the lead of AMVETS and recognize that the CRPD would undermine U.S. sovereignty and never live up to the claims of benefits for disabled Americans traveling overseas.

Daniel Kochis is a researcher at the Heritage Foundation. His article was first published in the the Heritage Foundation blog, The Foundry, on November 29, 2013.

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