While the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities “does not seem in conflict with American laws or values,” ratification efforts failed two years ago, and the Home School Legal Defense Association and others are lobbying for its defeat once again, writes Sociology Professor Susan Sered in the Truthout opinion article “Disabled Rights.”

“Our failure to ratify UNCRPD is consistent with US refusal to sign other human rights treaties. For example, the US is one of only three countries not to have signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child. (The other two are South Sudan and Somalia.) We haven’t ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the world’s primary document on women’s equality. And we haven’t signed The Convention against Enforced Disappearance, which prohibits the secret detention and abduction of people by the state,” writes Sered.

Opponents argue that the United States doesn’t need these treaties because it already does well by its citizens in these areas, but Sered begs to differ:

“In the United States close to 38 percent of working age adults with severe disabilities live in poverty; the children of poor parents are substantially more likely than children of non-poor parents to have a physical or mental disability that limits their activities and having a child with chronic illnesses or disabilities is associated with greater poverty for parents.

“American responses to disability are based on needs rather than on rights. ... We also tend to be suspicious of claims of neediness.”

Sered goes on to write that "we have not yet recognized that while needs make one “needy,” rights give pride, autonomy and dignity."

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