The Heritage Foundation

Factsheet #120

June 21, 2013

June 21, 2013 | Factsheet on

Ratifying The CPRD Will Not Help Disabled Americans at Home or Abroad

Will U.S. ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) benefit Americans with disabilities here at home?

  • Short answer: No.
  • No U.S. law, regulation, or enforcement policy will change if the U.S. ratifies the CRPD.
  • The Obama Administration has admitted this and has testified as such.
  • Because the Administration concedes that fact, it has concocted a theory that U.S. ratification will somehow help Americans with disabilities when they travel, work, serve, or study abroad.

Will U.S. ratification of the CRPD benefit disabled Americans who travel to foreign countries?

  • No, and it is an insult to Americans with disabilities—especially disabled veterans—to promise otherwise.
  • U.S. ratification of human rights treaties has no impact whatsoever on the improvement of human rights in other countries—that’s not how human rights treaties work.
  • There simply is no causal relationship between U.S. membership in a human rights treaty and the advancement of human rights abroad.
  • If that were the case, there would be little or no torture or racial discrimination in the world, and civil and political rights would be universally respected.
  • The U.S. advances international disability rights through USAID, which funds and administers programs around the globe that deliver aid, technical support, and equipment to scores of foreign countries.
  • The U.S. does this as part of its global humanitarian mission, not to make it easier for Americans with disabilities to travel to those countries.
  • The Administration should not make promises they cannot keep to Americans with disabilities.

Does membership in the CRPD hurt the United States?

  • The U.S. should ratify a treaty only if it advances its national interests—not because a treaty doesn’t “hurt” or would make the U.S. feel better.
  • Ratification will hurt the United States—financially and politically.
  • Financial obligations:
    • Every four years the U.S. would be required to prepare a comprehensive report that proves our compliance with CRPD’s provisions.
    • This report spans the entire government—not just the State Department, but also Justice, HHS, Transportation, HUD, Labor, Education, and so on.
    • Once the report is compiled, the U.S. sends a large delegation of officials to Geneva to defend the U.S. record before the CRPD Committee.
  • Political embarrassment:
    • The CRPD Committee, like every other human rights committee that the U.S. submits itself to, will invariably find the U.S. record on disability rights severely lacking.
    • For the three human rights treaties the U.S. is party to, every four years a U.S. delegation travels to Geneva for a “quadrennial spanking” by the treaty committee.
    • The CRPD will be no different, regardless of the fact that the U.S. is a pioneer and world leader in advancing the rights of persons with disabilities.
    • Why should the U.S. join a treaty for which it will be adjudged to be in perpetual violation?

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