CAROL SOELBERG, UNITED FAMILIES INTERNATIONAL
This week the U.S. Senate voted on a motion to move the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to the floor for a ratification vote – a vote that will require a two-thirds majority and could take place at any time. The Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in December 2006. United Families International had representatives in New York when this treaty was being negotiated. We saw firsthand all the problems, the social engineering, and the manipulations that surrounded this treaty.
As with most U.N. treaties, this treaty has a great sounding name, but questionable substance. But who could possibly object to rights and protections for the disabled? This view, however, sidesteps the point that the rights of people in many countries, particularly Americans with disabilities, are already well protected under existing laws. For example the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1991 already offers widespread protections and rights. Even if you believe that existing laws are insufficient, please understand that an international bureaucracy can do nothing to improve the lives of Americans with disabilities.
Advocates also claim that this treaty will have no negative impact on domestic law and that it is important for the U.S. and all countries to ratify this treaty by symbolically standing in solidarity against those nations who have less than stellar records. If symbolism is the goal, it is certainly a high price to pay – trading national sovereignty for symbolism.
Here are some basic reasons why U.S. ratification of the CRPD is a bad idea.
There are many who will tell you that this treaty will have little to no impact on law and public policy in the U.S. and that its main purpose is to ensure the rights and meet the needs of individuals with disabilities worldwide. Yet if ratified, the CRPD would become the supreme law of the land under the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause (Article VI), would trump state laws on disability, and would be used as binding precedent by state and federal judges.
Ratification of this treaty subjects nations to treaty monitoring bodies that are comprised of unelected and virtually unaccountable bureaucrats put in place by the U.N. to, every four years, scrutinize a country’s policies and actions to determine if they measure up to the commitments of the treaty.
We have witnessed, firsthand, these “compliance committees” at work as they badger countries, make unrealistic demands, and insert their own opinions and interpretations of treaty commitments. Therefore, all countries need to take great care when deciding whether to ratify such a treaty when its terms–or the interpretation of those terms by a treaty committee–may not conform to existing country laws or to prevalent social, cultural, and economic norms.
In addition, ratification of CRPD would have budgetary and debt implications. As Heritage Foundation points out: “U.N. treaties are always aimed directly at Americans’ wallets. This one is no different. The cost of enforcing it is unknown. Not only does the treaty fail to define who is disabled, but it also adds entitlements to whoever that might be.”
Many parental rights groups have significant concerns about the language regarding children. If the CRPD is ratified by the Senate, the rights of parents with disabled children will be usurped, because this treaty establishes a dangerous legal standard: “the best interests of the child.” This is a term that appears not only in the disabilities treaty, but also in another dangerous UN treaty that the U.S. has yet to ratify: The Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The “best interests of the child” is an intentionally ambiguous phrase that allows government and various policy makers to substitute their own decisions for those of the parents. It forms the basis for a classic “government knows best” power grab. By claiming superior knowledge of what is the “best interests of the child” – perhaps citing so-called “experts” – the government inserts their will for the child over the will of parents and family.
According to the Home School Legal Defense Association, Article 25 of the treaty does not reiterate the crucial parental rights rules of earlier human rights treaties (e.g., the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights or the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights). By omitting this important parental rights language and then including “best interests of the child” language, the stage is set for infringement of parental rights.
When the disabilities treaty was negotiated (2006), UFI and the pro-family coalition did their best to keep the term “sexual and reproductive health” from appearing in the document. This was to become the first time the term appeared in a binding international document even though, during the negotiations, some 23 nations called for the phrase “sexual and reproductive health” to be removed. The term is highly controversial because it is a vehicle that is used by UN agencies, alongside other pro-abortion advocates, to promote and expand a “right to abortion” worldwide.
Also, the treaty doesn’t bother to define the word “disabilities;” referring to it instead as an “evolving concept.” Let us translate that term for you: “We will make it intentionally vague so that we can have “disabilities” mean whatever we want it to mean.” There was no definition for “disabilities” included in spite of the fact that during the 2006 negotiations, there was a constant plea from many delegations to develop one. Steven Groves offers this explanation: “Such ambiguity invites abuse by persons or groups who do not suffer from a recognized medical disability, yet seek resources and protection under the authority of the Convention.”
What can I do?
1) Contact your U.S. Senator and urge them to oppose the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. You can do that by calling the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask for your Senators or click here to find their direct phone number and email address. Urge your friends and family to do the same.
2) In September, 36 U.S. Senators signed a letter stating that they would oppose any treaties that came up for a vote during the final session of Congress. Contact them and remind them of their pledge.
- Our friends at Concerned Women for America tell us that the Senators listed below are beginning to waffle. Please call them and urge them to continue to oppose the ratification of this treaty.
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texa): 202-224-5922
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee): 202-224-4944
Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nevada): 202-224-6244
Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Nebraska): 202-224-4224
Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas): 202-224-6521
Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi): 202-224-5054
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia): 202-224-3954
There is still time to stop this treaty from advancing. Be sure to remind your Senators that offering amendments to the CRPD is not enough to neutralize a treaty that is superfluous at best and downright dangerous at worst. Oppose the CRPD!
The Moral Liberal Family Editor Carol Soelberg is President of United Families International, former United States National Parents of the Year (2006, with her husband Glade), principle organizer of the 2001 Southwest World Congress of Families, the 2002 New York World Congress of Families, and the 2003 Defend Marriage and Family Conference. As the mother of thirteen children and thirty-six grandchildren, Carol understands the crucial role families play in a healthy society. Carol has a B.A. in Education and Home, Family, and Child Development.
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