The Center for the Human Rights of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry supports the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and calls for its ratification by the United States.
The CRPD will go a long way towards enshrining as national policy and international obligation, the legal and social equality of all people with disabilities, including users and survivors of psychiatry. It will give us new tools for advocacy and new opportunities to engage with government to implement non-discrimination in all areas of life.
The reservations, understandings and declarations ("RUDs") recommended by the administration do not prevent us from using the treaty to advance our rights. Despite our opposition to RUDs in principle and our commitment to work for withdrawal of RUDs from all human rights treaties, we do not believe that the current set of RUDs should be an obstacle to going forward. We call for unity on the treaty and wish to see ratification without any further RUDs in time for the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act on July 26th.
Arguments put forward by opponents of the CRPD have been: concerns about parental rights; opposition to abortion; and concern that other countries will tell the U.S. what to do. These objections are mistaken even if well meaning.
1) CRPD very much supports the role of families and the right of children with disabilities to family life, including by calling for comprehensive supports and services to be provided to children with disabilities and their families. The CRPD doesn't require anything to be changed that is working well; it is not a leveling down but a promotion of the highest available standards. For example, if IDEA is working well to provide quality education to children with disabilities, it should be promoted as a model that others may wish to follow, and would not need to be changed.
2) CRPD is a non-discrimination treaty and guarantees to women with disabilities the same reproductive health care that is available to other women. During the CRPD negotiations countries and civil society organizations on both sides of the issue of abortion acknowledged there was no need to take a position in this treaty; that discussion goes on in other mechanisms. It would be a shame for the treaty to be held hostage to an issue that is not even present in the text.
3) CRPD does nothing to allow any country to impose its views on any other, and the monitoring mechanism is limited to dialogue and recommendations by experts chosen by the states themselves. As a state party, the U.S. will be able to nominate an expert and vote on the candidates for the committee of experts. It will be expected to submit reports on the situation of persons with disabilities and any challenges faced with respect to full enjoyment and exercise of human rights. This will also give civil society, especially people with disabilities, an opportunity to engage in dialogue with our own government as well as with the group of experts. In addition, CRPD calls for an annual conference of states parties, where countries and civil society share information on good practices.
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