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Professor Arlene Kanter Contributes to New Book on CRPD's Adoption

Posted on Monday 6/29/2020
Recognising Human Rights in Different Cultural Contexts

Professor Arlene Kanter's chapter "The Failure of the United States to Ratify the CRPD" has been published in a new book that reviews how international law is translated into specific cultural contexts, taking the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) as its example. Recognising Human Rights in Different Cultural Contexts: The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Palgrave, 2020) is edited by Emily Kakoullis of Cardiff University, UK, and Kelley Johnson of Deakin University and University of New South Wales, Australia. 

From 2001-2006, Kanter worked with the UN committee on drafting CRPD. Since then, she has worked with governments and disability organizations on implementing the CRPD in more than a dozen countries. Kakoullis' and Johnson's book explores how CRPD has been interpreted and translated from an international human rights treaty into domestic law and policy in different cultural contexts. 

Beginning with reflections on "culture," "disability," and "human rights" from different disciplinary perspectives, the book is organized into "snapshots" of CRPD's journey from the international level to the domestic; the process of ratification and implementation; and the process of monitoring the CRPD’s implementation within states' cultural contexts. 

Kanter is among 16 leading global contributors who provide cutting-edge accounts of the interactions between the CRPD and diverse cultures, revealing variations in the way that the concept of "culture" is defined. Specifically, Kanter's chapter reviews how and why the United States has failed to ratify the CRPD treaty, even though the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act inspired the convention. 

As Kanter writes in a related article ("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), "CRPD was adopted by the United Nations in 2006 and entered into force in 2008. Since then, 177 countries have ratified it, but not the United States. This is not the first time that the United States has failed to ratify a human rights treaty ... [it] is considered to have one of the worst treaty ratification records in the world." 

Kanter argues that "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." 

Reviewing Kakoullis' and Johnson's book, Columbia University Professor Maya Sabatello writes, "[It's an] important addition to the field of disability rights, highlighting the role of culture(s)—legal, social, and identity—on international law-making processes, interpretation, and implementation ... Recognising Human Rights in Different Cultural Contexts provides a first-of-its-kind look into dynamics and embedded values that affect the struggle for human rights of persons with disabilities."