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 United Nations Building

Friday, 31st July 2009

*Yesterday, ASAN representatives attended a reception at the United States
Mission to the United Nations celebrating the signing of the UN Convention
on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the first international human
rights treaty signed by the United States in the 21st Century. *
U.S. signs U.N. disabilities pact, in change of course Thu Jul 30, 2009
5:39pm EDT

By Patrick Worsnip<http://blogs. reuters.com/ search/journalis t.php?edition= us&n=Patrick. Worsnip>

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The United States signed a U.N. convention on
Thursday aimed at ensuring equal rights for the world’s 650 million disabled
people, a pact that the former Bush administration refused to endorse.

In a ceremony at U.N. headquarters, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice inked the
pact, billed by the United Nations as the first human rights treaty of the
21st century. It came into force last year.

The 32-page U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
outlaws all forms of discrimination at work on the basis of disability,
including in hiring, promotion and working conditions. It requires equal pay
for work of equal value.

It also calls on signatory states to promote the employment of disabled
people, including through “affirmative action” programs that favor them.

The pact stipulates the disabled may not be excluded from mainstream
education systems. It demands that governments provide them with physical
access to transportation, schools, housing, medical facilities and
workplaces.

Bush administration officials had said the document was weaker than the 1990
U.S. Americans with Disabilities Act and therefore could complicate
enforcement of that law.

But Rice said the United States was “very pleased to join 141 other
countries that have signed this convention in pursuit of a more just world.”
Sixty-one countries have ratified the pact.

President Barack Obama would soon submit the convention for Senate approval,
Rice said at the ceremony attended by representatives of U.S. disability
groups.

Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to Obama, told the gathering the signing
was a “historic step toward advancing our global commitment to the
fundamental human rights for all persons with disabilities. “

She also announced the creation of a senior-level position at the State
Department to develop a strategy to promote the rights of disabled people
around the world.

The signing underlined the more favorable attitude toward the United Nations
of the Obama administration than that of its predecessor, which often
criticized the world body and was leery of international treaties that could
have an impact on U.S. law.

Human Rights Watch, one of several advocacy groups that welcomed the
signing, said the United States had signed six out of nine core
international human rights treaties but ratified only three — on racial
discrimination, civil and political rights, and torture.

Jamil Dakwar of the American Civil Liberties Union said that Thursday was “a
great day for the rights of people with disabilities and a step forward for
the U.S. human rights movement.”

(Editing by Peter Cooney)


Ari Ne’eman
President
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network
http://www.autistic advocacy. org
info@autisticadvoca cy.org
732.763.5530

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