Ratification of Treaty on Rights of Persons With Disabilities Fails

By Nirvi Shah — December 04, 2012 1 min read
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The U.S. Senate today rejected the ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The chamber fell five votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to approve the treaty, which special education advocates hoped would pass, noting that 90 percent of children with disabilities in developing countries have no access to education. In the 61-38 vote, the Associated Press reported, all 38 no votes came from Republicans.

Proponents of homeschooling, including former Republican Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, worried the measure could infringe on the rights of American families to raise their children as they see fit.

Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma told AP that he voted against the treaty because he said he opposes “cumbersome regulations and potentially overzealous international organizations with anti-American biases that infringe upon American society.”

But Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, one of the measure’s lead supporters, said the treaty “just says that you can’t discriminate against the disabled. It says that other countries have to do what we did 22 years ago when we set the example for the world and passed the Americans with Disabilities Act,” the AP reported.

UPDATE And the White House also expressed its disappointment in a statement Tuesday evening.

“Ratification would require no changes to U.S. law, as the United States already leads the world in promoting and protecting the rights of persons with disabilities. However, it would position the United States to support extending across the globe the rights that Americans already enjoy at home. This in turn would improve the lives of Americans with disabilities—including our wounded service members—who wish to live, work, and travel abroad. It would also allow our businesses to operate on a more level playing field and reaffirm American leadership on disability rights,” the statement said.

In a statement, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland expressed his disappointment with the Senate vote. He asked Senate Republicans to reconsider the vote and move forward with ratification.

A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.