National Council on Disability Urges Swift Ratification of the Disability Treaty after Supreme Court Decision

June 9, 2014 – Washington, DC – On June 2, the United States Supreme Court issued its ruling in Bond v. United States.  The decision removed one of the stated obstacles to ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and affirms the long-standing position of the National Council on Disability (NCD) that the US needs to expeditiously ratify the Disability Treaty. NCD is an independent federal agency that recommends disability policy to the President, Congress and other federal agencies.  

In light of the Supreme Court decision, NCD reaffirms its longstanding support and hopes this sign of progress will pave the way for prompt ratification of the CRPD by Congress. Ratification will allow U.S. participation at the CRPD Conference of States Parties and permit the U.S. to appoint a member to the CRPD Committee so that the U.S. can assist in the implementation of the treaty and lend its expertise as more nations develop and adopt their own disability rights laws. 

“The CRPD was created with the same goals that the United States had when we enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act – to empower individuals with disabilities to achieve economic self-sufficiency, independent living, inclusion and integration into all aspects of society. Considerable progress has been made through international collaborations, but more must be done. Far too many people with disabilities languish under their insufficient governmental frameworks in their own countries. Now that these obstacles have been soundly refuted ratification of the treaty will be a huge step forward in enhancing the lives of people with disabilities around the world," stated Joan Durocher, NCD's General Counsel and Director of Policy.

Over a decade ago in 2002, NCD’s work served as the catalyst for consideration within the United States of an international human rights treaty for persons with disabilities when the agency published a White Paper titled "Understanding the Role of an International Convention on the Human Rights of People with Disabilities." Since then, NCD has continued to serve a leadership advisory role during the evolution of the Disability Treaty and has published numerous documents, updates and reports in the development of, and support for its ratification.

No new legislation is required for the US to adopt the treaty as was confirmed in a proposed Senate Foreign Relations Committee resolution of advice and consent in 2012, which stated, "The Senate declares that, in view of the reservations to be included in the instrument of ratification, current United States law fulfills or exceeds the obligations of the Convention for the United States of America."

Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-KS) – a decorated disabled World War II veteran and longtime Republican leader (who was the party’s presidential nominee in 1996) has supported ratification of the CRPD by the United States since its inception – issued a statement late Monday June 2 stating that the Supreme Court’s decision in Bond v. United States provided a path forward for the Senate to consent to ratification of the treaty, which stalled on the floor during the 2012 lame-duck session.

About the National Council on Disability: NCD is an independent federal agency of 15 Presidentially-appointed Council Members and full-time professional staff, who advise the President, Congress and other federal agencies on disability policy, programs, and practices.

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