According to The Seattle Times guest columnists Dick Thornburgh and Paul Steven Miller, the disabled are the world’s largest minority yet only 45 countries can claim laws that protect the rights of those with disabilities. To help rectify this lack, the U.N. International Treaty on the Rights of People with Disabilities took effect in May. It signifies a landmark step towards guaranteeing the rights of of those in this minority group, and yet, the U.S. isn’t signing it.
With a positive history such as the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, America stands to lend some weight to this treaty and our country’s choice not to do so is remiss on a great many levels. The protection of those who are limited in their ability to stand up for themselves should be foremost in our priorities as a nation.
In America alone, there are millions of people with disabilities that range from functional to severe. This treaty would help those with physical, mental, intellectual and sensory impairments to be treated on an equal basis, with the same dignity as the rest of the population.
The U.N. states that 20 percent of the world’s poorest people have some type of disability, that 80 percent live in developing countries and that the mortality rate for children with disabilities can be as high as 80 percent in some countries.
So why isn’t the U.S. signing this treaty?