Dear Mrs. Swasey:
Thank you for sharing your thoughts about the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). It is good to hear from you.
As you may know, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the CRPD in 2006 and President Obama transmitted it to the Senate earlier this year. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held only one hearing on this treaty and quickly reported it to the full Senate. As one of the principle authors of the Americans with Disabilities Act, I support this treaty’s general goal of promoting the rights and opportunities of persons with disabilities but believe that an international treaty is the wrong means of achieving that goal.
The CRPD would authorize a United Nations committee of individuals chosen by foreign countries to evaluate whether, in its opinion, a ratifying country is complying with the treaty. If the United States ratified it, this committee would scrutinize our political, social, cultural, and even family life. Since a ratified treaty has the same legal status as the Constitution itself, this treaty undermines American sovereignty and self-government.
With these concerns in mind, I voted against the CRPD on December 4, 2012. The 61-38 vote was fewer than the 2/3 margin that the Constitution requires for ratification. However, I will continue to support legitimate ways of promoting the rights and opportunities of persons with disabilities.
Once again, thank you for writing.
Orrin G. Hatch
United States Senator