Senate rejection of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities was a new low; and a shameful blight on America’s traditional role as a global human rights leader. Senator Kerry, who championed the treaty, has promised to bring it up for a vote once again in the new Congressional term.

The Disabilities Treaty is somewhat obscure; it also would not have changed anything about domestic approaches to persons with disabilities so the mainstream media generally ignored the drama leading up to the vote on December 4.  The failure of the treaty, however, certainly caught the media’s attention.

What follows are some highlights of media blasting those who cynically opposed this human rights treaty:


And here’s Katrina vanden Heuvel in the Washington Post:

No matter that Democratic Sen. John Kerry patiently and eloquently explained that the treaty would in no way impact U.S. law but merely encourage other countries to adopt our own standards and make life easier for disabled Americans abroad. Or that the treaty — signed by 154 countries and ratified by 126 — was modeled on the landmark Americans With Disabilities Act, a billchampioned by Dole and signed into law by President George H.W. Bush. Or that the treaty itself was drawn up by that notorious U.N.-hugger George W. Bush. Or even thateight Republican senators voted to ratify it, including increasingly rabid Obama foreign policy critic John McCain, who listed two dozen supportive veterans organizations before noting that the treaty was about “American leadership in the world.”

But none of that counted, because,according to Rick Santorum and his band of U.N..-bashers, ratification would meanwheeling ourselves, ever so slowly, down the road to serfdom at the feet of “international bureaucrats.” It would outsource American power to Geneva, decimate home schooling and shake the very foundations of society. To say nothing of the forced abortions that, Santorum & Co. suggest, would inevitably result.

What is it about the United Nations that sends the GOP into such a tizzy? That diplomats are encouraged to speak French? The United Nation’s intentions are the best, yet Republicans always assume the worst. They weep for the improbable horrors that could be but shed very few tears for the hardships in the here and now, such those suffered by the 1 billion disabled people worldwide who struggle with patchwork laws and official neglect. As comedian Jon Stewart noted, “Republicans hate the United Nations more than they like helping people in wheelchairs.”

And Wolf Blitzer, CNN, 12/5/12:

A wheelchair moving slowly to the center of the Senate floor and in that wheelchair an 89 year old war hero, a hero who earned two Purple Hearts, who also earned a Bronze Star and that hero appeals for recognition of atreaty. It’s a treaty that bans discrimination against people with disabilities. Just sounds like a no-brainer right?”

What else? Add links in the comments section or send to @UNDispatch

  • Andrea Shettle

    You can find a more extensive collecion of links to stories on the recent CRPD events in the US at as well as updates on the attempt to ratify it (no, the US disabilty community has not given up this fight!) at

  • Anonymous

    I don’t understand where this respect for the UN comes from. It’s a non-democratic body composed mostly of non-democratic governments. And if Americans already have these rights, why does the US need to sign this treaty?

  • Kenna Neel

    Jon Stewart is a comedian. And anyone taking anything he says as anything other than a joke is halucinatory. I am disabled. I believe the wording in the treaty needs to be revised as Sen Demint and others have advocated. Why not? What is the problem with that? It firmly closes doors that Kerry’s version would leave open. My vote, as an individual that this treaty would directly impact, is change it! We should be using this as an opportunity to pull international laws UP to our level if behalf of diabled persons world wide. Not to lower ourselves to their standards. Less than that is unacceptable.