“Under the U.S. Constitution, ratified treaties are the supreme law of the land. Since the United States has long had the most progressive disability laws and policies in the world, we likely are already doing much that the CRPD requires. But that is not the point, and instead highlights the real problem. Ratifying the CRPD would endorse an official ongoing role for the United Nations in evaluating virtually every aspect of American life. Ratifying the CRPD would say that the United Nations, not the American people, has the final say about whether the United States is meeting its obligations in these many areas. And it would impose this cost to American sovereignty and self-government with no concrete benefit to Americans.”
Senator Orrin Hatch, July 10, 2013
Our Senate is poised to potentially vote away our sovereign rights as it pertains to persons with disability. There are murmurings that discussion in the Foreign Relations committee may begin as soon as next week on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD). President Obama has already signed the treaty. Following the committee discussion, it would require approval by two thirds of the Senate to be ratified. While advocates believe that the treaty advances the excellent protection afforded to Americans with disability to those around the world, detractors fear the vague language could endanger parental rights, homeschooling rights, and USA sovereign rights and freedoms if ratified. At this time, exactly when the senate vote will occur is uncertain. It could be as soon as next week, later this month, or perhaps in September. Most agree it will happen at some point in the very near future.
When I raised my own objections to the treaty to Sen. Hagen of North Carolina, I specifically questioned why we would want to accede our sovereignty to a foreign entity. She told me that we would not have to cede any rights to the U.N. that were counter to our own laws. Were that true, why sign the treaty, I asked? If it is ineffectual, at best it is a waste of time. And if it is not ineffectual, why were we relinquishing our national authority? How was that in our best interest? She did not respond.
William A. Estrada, the Director of Federal Relations with Home School Legal Defense Association warns that, “There is no response to that question.” While proponents claim that “Reservations, Understandings, and Declarations”, or RUDs, would exempt us from treaty provisions that conflicted with or superseded U.S. law, this issue is not at all settled in our country. International law regards treaties as the supreme law and binding, in conflict with what Senator Hagen, and CRPD proponents claim. When Senate hearings were conducted a year ago on this treaty, Mike Farris of HSLDA was the single person versed in international law who spoke. He vehemently cautioned against ratifying CRPD.
Mr. Estrada presents a compelling case for why signing this treaty would not only NOT help people with disabilities, but would in fact do great harm to our nation. He believes the many Disability Group Advocates who support the treaty are well-intentioned, but mistaken in their belief that this treaty will positively impact persons with disability here and abroad. As an example, he cites certain Arab countries who have signed CRPD, while continuing to kill some citizens with disability. ( which does not strike me as following the letter or the spirit of the treaty….)
Similarly, many of the Muslim nations who ratified the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women(CEDAW) continue to have horrific treatment of women. Yet, no U.N. peacekeeping force enters these countries to enforce the treaty provisions, thus the treaties are unenforceable in impacting world behavior and are routinely signed and ignored.
As Mr. Estrada points out, the United States is already the world leader in rights for women, children, and people with disabilities. There is no advantage in signing the U.N. treaty in terms of improving our own laws, and the potential for loss of control of our own sovereignty is probable.
Why is the treaty specifically a threat?
First and foremost, Mr. Estrada contends, it would place the decisions and authority regarding persons with disability in the hands of an international, unelected bureaucrat with no vested interest in our nation or people. In the case of children with disablilty, “the best interest of the child” would become the primary consideration, which in our country is currently only considered legally in cases of abuse, neglect, or divorce. Were the treaty to be ratified, the UN Committee would be the ultimate authority in deciding what was in “the best interest of the child”. That could potentially include the right to homeschool, or any number of decisions parents regularly make, and many freedoms we now enjoy could be threatened.
Secondly, it would require the establishment of a national database from birth of every person with disability. It would need to be updated regularly, and subject to review by U.N. officials. Decisions regarding the treatment of the disabled would no longer rest in the hands of Americans, but in the international 18 person U.N. committee.
Thirdly, it would require government funding for sexual/reproductive health, which in the words of Hillary Clinton when this treaty was first discussed, includes the “right” to abortion at taxpayer expense.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it would cede our national sovereignty to an international committee we do not elect and has no vested interest in us.
Mr. Estrada agrees that there is a legitimate role for the U.N. as an international forum to discuss world issues. He also agrees with treaty proponents that the United States should indeed be a beacon of light to the rest of the world in human rights issues. However, he vigorously rejects the notion that this treaty, or any human rights treaty, is the proper vehicle to accomplish this task. It is important to understand that the treaty is between the U.S. and the U.N., not the U.S. and another country in which we are hoping to improve the human rights record.
“We have an obligation to raise the world standard for people with disability, and we have a compelling moral argument. We already give millions of dollars in foreign aid towards that end,” said Estrada.
Furthermore, despite proponents’ claims otherwise, Estrada says the treaty will do nothing to protect our own citizens traveling abroad. Many countries who have signed the treaty continue to abuse human rights in general and rights of the disabled specifically.
“If the treaty does nothing to affect the rights of disabled, and does affect our sovereign rights as a nation…why are we ratifying it?” Mr. Estrada questions.
And what is the agenda? Why the push to ratify this treaty? Mr. Estrada feels many of the disability groups and supporters are well-intentioned, though mistaken. However, he believes that for many legislators, the agenda is in part due to “internationalists” who are frustrated by the inability to pass laws in our own legislative process. They welcome more U.N. control over our country, in hopes of U.N. mandates to accomplish what they have been unable to accomplish in our own political process. In the end, Mr. Estrada warns, we lose freedom and it is dangerous.
Call your Senator today and urge them to retain the gold standard treatment Americans with disabilities already enjoy, and vote NO on ratifying CRPD.
Vicky is the homeschool mother of three who first became interested in politics when her right to homeschool was threatened. She is the author of 7 books and writes a daily, inspirational blog. Please read, like, and share this post!
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