US refuses to bow down to UN over disability treaty

05 December 2012 - 13:09 By Sapa-dpa
Disabled parking bay. File photo
Disabled parking bay. File photo
Image: Wikimedia Commons.

The US Senate on Tuesday rejected a United Nations global treaty intended to ban discrimination against people with disabilities.

The treaty requiring the approval of two-thirds of the Senate was five votes short of passing.

Most Republican senators opposed the treaty, arguing it would increase abortion rights and infringe on parents’ freedom to home-school children with disabilities, according to political newspaper The Hill.

Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma said the treaty would infringe on US sovereignty: “This unelected bureaucratic body would pass recommendations that would be forced upon the United States if we were a signatory.”  All Senate Democrats voted in favor of the treaty, joined by a few senators from the conservative Republican Partys including Arizona Senator John McCain.

While the treaty would not overwrite US federal and state law, it would provide assistance to US veterans with disabilities living abroad.

The ratification of the convention was considered to have been a mechanism to encourage the international community to adapt laws to the level of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a US law that is considered the gold standard for people with handicaps.

The UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in December 2006. President Barack Obama signed the treaty in 2009.

The convention aims to extend the rights to dignity, safety and equality to people around the world regardless of citizenship or ability.

The convention has been signed by 155 countries and ratified by 126.

According to the UN, 10% of the world’s population lives with some sort of disability.