Why the Senate Should Ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
The United States has been a world leader in developing effective policy to ensure that individuals with disabilities have equal opportunity not only in the workplace but in society. Thus, earlier this week, amidst the current Beltway chatter about the fiscal cliff, taxes and sequestration, the U.S. Senate rightly took time to debate the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Ratification of the CRPD will enable the U.S. to continue its leadership role and help create greater access and opportunity for individuals with disabilities throughout the world.
Based upon the principles of non-discrimination and equality of opportunity, which are at the core of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other U.S. disability rights laws, the CRPD seeks “to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities.” Because its principles are largely rooted in U.S. law, the CRPD would not require any changes to existing law in order for the U.S. to comply with its provisions.
Why then, if the U.S. is already in compliance, should the CRPD be ratified? First, as noted above, ratification of the CRPD will help to promote and bolster the United States’ position as the world leader on disability rights issues. Second, although the CRPD would not grant new rights to U.S. citizens living or traveling abroad, ratification would enable the U.S. to play a more proactive role in ensuring that other ratifying countries take the proper steps to reduce barriers and increase accessibility for individuals with disabilities. Finally, ratification will help to level the playing field for U.S. businesses, which currently compete with foreign counterparts who do not have to adhere to our high standards when it comes to accommodation and accessibility for individuals with disabilities.
As always, the U.S. Chamber is committed to promoting the promise and goals of the ADA. The Chamber was a leader in negotiations between the business groups and the disabled community that resulted in important amendments to the law in 2008 and also worked to ensure that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) promulgated final regulations that were consistent with that compromise. In this spirit, the Chamber supports the ratification of the CRPD as a means to promote global acceptance of the rights of individuals with disabilities.