Senator Harkin Calls for Vote on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Last week, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) called on his colleagues in the Senate to vote on the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) treaty. Senator Harkin called for a unanimous consent vote that was opposed on the floor, preventing the vote from taking place.

The Arc has been working with numerous other disability advocacy groups and Senators to garner support for the ratification of this treaty, which will promote, protect, and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities. For years, The Arc’s Public Policy team and grassroots advocates across the country have been working to promote the CRPD and ensure ratification. The United States signed the CRPD on July 30, 2009, joining the 141 other signing nations. As of June 2012, the Convention had 113 ratifications and 153 signatures. On May 17, 2012, following almost three years of thorough review, the Obama Administration submitted its treaty package to the U.S. Senate for its advice and consent for ratification.

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Passes Senate Committee

Last week, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) out of committee with a vote of 12-6. Advocates are hopeful that it will be put to a floor vote in the Senate this week, prior to the August recess. The Treaty is supported by nearly 850 disability organizations (including The Arc of the US and many chapter affiliates), civil rights groups, faith organizations, veterans groups, and major business groups including the Chamber of Commerce. Members of The Arc will be joining hundreds of other advocates on July 29th for a march and rally hosted by the National Council on Independent Living in support of CRPD. To learn more about CRPD, please see: The Arc’s fact sheet and blog entry, as well as a video message from Sen. Harkin. To contact your Senator about this critical issue, please visit The Arc’s Action Center or Tweet using #ISupportCRPD.

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Update

Last week, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) met with members of the disability advocacy community to ask for continued support in urging the Senate’s passage of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The treaty has been placed on the agenda of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee business meeting for mark-up on Tuesday, July 22. Supporters are hopeful that the treaty will pass out of committee and go to the Senate floor for a vote the week of July 28.

The Treaty was adopted by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly on December 13, 2006 and was signed by President Obama on June 30, 2009. The Senate took the treaty up for consideration in December of 2012 but fell five votes short of the 67 needed for ratification. To learn more, please see The Arc’s fact sheet and blog entry, as well as a video message from Sen. Harkin. To contact your Senator about this critical issue, please visit The Arc’s Action Center or Tweet using #ISupportCRPD.

Senator Tom Harkin Urges Support for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) reached out to The Arc and other disability stakeholders asking for help in urging Senators to support the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).  Senator Harkin is pushing for a vote on the treaty the week of July 21st. July 26th is the 24th anniversary of the signing of the ADA.  Bi-partisan work is being done to craft reservations, understandings, and declarations (RUDs) that will address concerns that some Senators have about United Nations treaties in general and the CRPD specifically.  The Arc pledged to continue its efforts to garner support for the treaty.

Message from Senator Tom Harkin on The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) convened a group of disability, civil rights, and veterans advocates to strategize about a final push for ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).  Efforts are directed toward a vote in July around the 24th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Senator Harkin has a message for supporters of the treaty and a plea for assistance.  Please go to http://www.harkin.senate.gov/help/crpdstories.cfm to watch Senator Harkin’s message.

Walmart Latest Supporter of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

In late December, Walmart added its voice to supporters of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  In a letter to U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez, Walmart wrote “Ratification of this treaty would underscore the role of the United States as a leader for the roughly one billion people in the world with disabilities – including approximately 58 million Americans.”

Walmart’s letter expanded on its commitment to a diverse and multicultural workforce, including people with disabilities.  The company urged the Senate to ratify the treaty.

The Consortium for Citizens With Disabilities International Task Force Releases Report That Makes Further Arguments For Why U.S Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is Important

The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) International Task Force released a report which compiles just a few examples of the severe treatment, abuse, and discrimination faced by individuals with disabilities in other countries, and argues that U.S. ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) will enhance the ability of the U.S. to work to improve the lives of people with disabilities around the world.  The report, Neglected and Abused Abroad: A Look at the Severe Mistreatment of Individuals with Disabilities Around the World and How the U.S. Can Help, is available on the CCD website.

A new Facebook page is available to provide accurate information and build support for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The page includes information about advocating ratification of the treaty as well as blog posts from Patricia Morrissey, former Commissioner of the Administration on Developmental Disabilities and a video from Secretary of State, John Kerry. It includes talking points in English and Spanish and short animated videos explaining the treaty and arguments for its ratification. The page is also a place to share stories, feedback from Senate contacts, talking points and other resources.

Briefing Held on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The U.S. International Council on Disabilities (USICD) held a briefing on the Hill focused on the impact of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on global commerce and international accessibility.  Each of the panelists agreed that ratification of the CRPD will create global business opportunities, especially in the realm of assistive technology. Creating accessible infrastructures is dependent upon a global exchange of knowledge on disabilities. Both people with disabilities and the U.S. economy would benefit from working together with other countries on innovative accessibility solutions.

Webinar on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Several advocacy organizations, including The Arc, participated in a webinar that explains the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and why ratification by the U.S. Senate is so important. The webinar is part of an advocacy toolkit that includes materials that can be used to support ratification of the CRPD. More materials are available on the USICD website.

Community Leadership Call on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities This Week

On May 16, at 3 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, Senator Tom Harkin, Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, will be a special guest on a Community Leadership call for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the CRPD. There will be updates about the status of the CRPD and the plan for hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Sign up for the call.