At 4:45 pm this Friday, President Obama will sign the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), beginning the process of U.S. ratification. This is a good thing.
The CRPD addresses barriers that impede the full participation of people with disabilities in their communities on all aspects of daily life. The treaty enhances opportunities for community access, employment and entrepreneurship, international exchange, and the attainment of an adequate standard of living for all individuals, children and families affected by disability.
53 countries have already ratified the Convention, which went into effect in May 2008, after the 20th state ratification. According to U.S. law, though, for the United States to ratify the treaty, the Senate will still need to vote in favor of it. And due to what seems to me a very silly protocol, the Senate can only consider one UN treaty at a time. This means, among other things, that the United States cannot ratify a convention upholding the rights of women at the same time as it ratifies an equally overdue treaty upholding the rights of children, nor, it seems, one that affirms the rights of people with disabilities.