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Professor Arlene Kanter Calls for CRPD Ratification in Touro Law Review

Posted on Thursday 5/16/2019
Arlene Kanter
Kanter, Arlene S. "Let’s Try Again: Why the United States Should Ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities." Touro Law Review, 35 (2019).

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was adopted by the United Nations in 2006 and entered into force in 2008, explains Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professor of Teaching Excellence and Director of the Disability Law and Policy Program Arlene Kanter in Touro Law Review.

Since then, 177 countries have ratified the CRPD, but not the United States. "This is not the first time that the US has failed to ratify a human rights treaty," Kanter writes. "Of the nine core human rights treaties that the UN has adopted, the US has ratified only three. Based on this record, the US is considered to have one of the worst treaty ratification records in the world." 

After President Barack Obama signed the CRPD, the US Senate failed to ratify it, "not once but on two occasions." Kanter further explains that the CRPD goes beyond the rights provided in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). "However, that is not a reason not to ratify. In fact, the best reason for the US to ratify the CRPD is that ratification will help to fully realize the promise of the ADA and its 2008 amendments," she continues. 

In her article, Kanter argues that the Senate should ratify the CRPD without any further delay. The first section provides an overview of the CRPD, followed by a discussion of the ways in which the Convention differs from the ADA of 1990, as well as the ADA Amendments Act of 2008. The third section discusses the process that led to the failure of the Senate to ratify the CRPD, including responses to the arguments against ratification presented by a group of “Tea Party” Republican senators. 

Kanter's article concludes with an immediate call for the Senate to ratify the CRPD in order to fulfill its duty to Americans with disabilities. However, "given the current composition of the Senate and the isolationist policies of the Trump Administration," Kanter concedes that despite the many benefits of CRPD ratification, it is unlikely to occur any time soon.