Republican Defeat of Ratification of Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Emblematic of an Attitude of Bigotry

December 7, 2012 at 7:23 AM

When the first meeting was held in San Francisco in 1945 to form the United Nations, the prevailing concept was that all people had value, and were entitled to basic human rights, without exception.

That concept was the basis for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The convention, or treaty, has been based on:

“The principles proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations which recognize the inherent dignity and worth and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family as the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”

It is therefore puzzling that a group of Republican Senators were behind the failure of the United States to ratify the Convention, or treaty. Sixty-seven years after the formation of the United Nations, the United States stands alone as the only industrialized nation that has refused to sign the treaty over the years.

The Convention is also based on

“Recognizing that disability is an evolving concept and that disability results from the interaction between persons with impairments and attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinders their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.”

Furthermore, the Convention supports the concept that all people with disabilities should be:

“actively involved in decision-making processes about policies and programs, including those directly concerning them.”

The failure to ratify the treaty makes it easier to understand how people with disabilities continue to be relegated to the status of second class citizens, devoid of the basic civil, human and due process rights that the non-disabled population enjoys. The “Second Class” citizen status, that people with disabilities continue to be burdened with, is an
extension of society’s underlying attitude toward vulnerable citizens. However, the position of the conservative Senate Republicans who opposed the treaty, including Rick Santorum, toward people with disabilities, is emblematic of an attitude of bigotry.

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