News / USA

US Fails to Ratify Convention on the Disabled

This handout video image shows former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, right, in the Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill, Dec. 4,2012, by his wife Elizabeth Dole. Frail and in a wheelchair, Dole was a startling presence on the Senate floor as lawmakers voted on a treaty on disabilities.
This handout video image shows former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, right, in the Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill, Dec. 4,2012, by his wife Elizabeth Dole. Frail and in a wheelchair, Dole was a startling presence on the Senate floor as lawmakers voted on a treaty on disabilities.
Michael Bowman
The U.S. Senate has voted down a United Nations treaty that supporters say is intended to safeguard the rights and improve the treatment of disabled people around the world.  The Senate did not muster the two-thirds majority needed to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was signed by former President George W. Bush.

Tuesday’s vote of 61-to-38 followed two hours of passionate floor debate.

Democratic Senator John Kerry urged his colleagues to back the treaty.

Sen. John Kerry walks to the Senate floor on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012.Sen. John Kerry walks to the Senate floor on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012.
x
Sen. John Kerry walks to the Senate floor on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012.
Sen. John Kerry walks to the Senate floor on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012.
“Raise your voice and vote for millions who are voiceless in their own lands," he said.  "Stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.”

Kerry’s words failed to sway dozens of Republican senators who are reluctant to tie the United States to world bodies in general and the United Nations in particular.

Senator James Inhofe warned that the treaty would subject U.S. laws and sovereignty to the whims of the United Nations bureaucracy.

“These unelected bureaucratic bodies would implement the treaty and pass so-called recommendations that would be forced upon the U.S., if the U.S. is a signatory,” he said.

Fellow-Republican Senator Mike Lee said the treaty's provisions could erode the rights of American parents to make decisions on behalf of their disabled children.

“I simply cannot support a treaty that threatens the rights of parents to raise their children with the constant looming threat of state interference,” he said.

Treaty backers dismissed such concerns as unfounded.

“Joining the convention will not require any changes in United States laws and policies with regard to the disabled, now or in the future, and will not provide a basis for lawsuits in the United States’ courts," said Republican Senator Richard Lugar. "Such matters will continue to be governed solely by United States laws.”

Treaty proponents argued that joining the convention would make the United States a more effective advocate for the rights of the disabled around the globe.

“America is an exceptional nation when it steps forward in the belief that freedom and liberty and opportunity should be for everyone in our country and around the world,” said Democratic Senator Richard Durbin.

More than 150 countries have signed the convention, which supporters say is intended to boost the dignity and autonomy of the disabled, while promoting their full participation and inclusion in society.  The treaty seeks to protect the disabled from discrimination, and sets forth their right to education, health care and employment.

You May Like

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

Video One Year After Massacre, Iraq’s Yazidis a Broken People

Minority community still recovering from devastating assault by IS militants which spurred massive outrage More

‘Malvertisements’ Undermine Internet Trust

Hackers increasingly prey on users' trust of major websites to delivery malicious software More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs