WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The United States International Council on Disabilities was among disability and veterans groups in a packed room for a U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. CRPD--an international treaty that protects the rights of people with disabilities globally, also was the topic of a press conference convened by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) urging the Senate to ratify the treaty. A Senate vote is expected at the end of July.
The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing featured more than five experts from the Senate and federal government. Those experts testified at the hearing stating that ratification of the international treaty that protects the rights of disabled Americans overseas requires no change to current U.S. laws, carries no cost, and is in the best interest of the U.S.
"U.S. ratification of the CRPD will improve physical, technological and communication access outside the U.S., thereby helping to ensure that Americans -- particularly, many thousands of disabled American veterans -- have equal opportunities to live, work, and travel abroad," said Sen. McCain reading from a statement submitted by Sen. Bob Dole, who was unable to attend.
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Senior Counselor to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights; Eve Hill, Department of Justice; and Judith Heumann, the State Department’s Special Adviser for International Disability Rights; testified in support of the treaty. Richard Thornburgh, former Attorney General of the U.S; John Wodatch, former Chief of the Disability Rights Section, Department of Justice; and John Lancaster, retired U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant and USICD Board Member; also voiced their support for treaty ratification in testimony before the Committee.
Inspired by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the CRPD protects the rights of people with disabilities around the globe. Ratification of the treaty guarantees protection for Americans with disabilities that work, travel and study abroad including thousands of students studying abroad, those working internationally, and military families.
At the press conference, Sens. McCain and Durbin affirmed their support for the CRPD and urged their colleagues to ratify the treaty. Also speaking at the press conference were Raymond Kelly, Director of Legislative Affairs for Veterans of Foreign Wars and Marca Bristo, USICD President.
"The ratification of the CRPD is in the best interest of the U.S. and its 54 million Americans with disabilities," said Bristo. "It extends the same protection to Americans with disabilities who travel or live outside the U.S., as we have currently in the U.S."
Veterans groups were well represented at the press conference as the treaty is supported by all the major veterans organizations including Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the American Legion. That's because so many military personnel and their families are directly affected by the ratification of the CRPD.
U.S. businesses will gain from treaty ratification because countries that ratify the treaty will need the technological advances and innovation of American products that meet the needs of people with disabilities.
Perhaps one of the most important reasons for ratification is that globally, the U.S. has always been a leader in the disability rights movement. Without ratifying the CRPD, the U.S. is not eligible to serve on the Committee overseeing the implementation of the treaty abroad, nor can the U.S. join treaty discussions with the 116 other countries that already have ratified it.
USICD joins Sens. McCain (R-AZ), Durbin (D-IL), Moran (R-KS), Harkin (D-IA), Barrasso (R-WY), Coons (D-DE) and Udall (D-NM), 165 disability organizations and 21 veterans' organizations in urging the Senate to ratify the CRPD. USICD believes ratification of the CRPD demonstrates the U.S.' commitment to international disability rights and positions the U.S. as a leader on this important global issue.
"The U.S. ratification of the CRPD will continue our country’s distinguished tradition as a world leader for people with disabilities as evidenced by the ADA," said former congressman from California, the Honorable Tony Coelho, lead sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and USICD board member.
The Senate is expected to vote on the treaty at the end of July, coinciding with the 22nd anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
About U.S. International Council on Disabilities (USICD)
USICD is a nonpartisan membership organization that works to bridge the American and international disability communities. USICD’s Board of Directors includes recognized leaders in the American disability rights movement, providing a wealth of experience and sharing a vision for the full inclusion, access, and rights of people with disabilities worldwide.