Handicap International Laments U.S. Senate's Failure to Pass the CRPD

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Organization sees defeat of CRPD as a message of exclusion to the world.

Amrit, a Nepalese child with cerebral palsy, with a Handicap International community worker. September 2012. © Brice Blondel / Handicap International

"It was time for the U.S. to support global efforts to eradicate the poverty and exclusion that many people with disabilities suffer abroad."
— Elizabeth MacNairn, Executive Director, Handicap International U.S.

Handicap International regrets today’s United States 61-38 Senate vote against ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), a treaty that protects the rights of people with disabilities.

"It was time for the U.S. to support global efforts to eradicate the poverty and exclusion that many people with disabilities suffer abroad,” said Elizabeth MacNairn, executive director of Handicap International U.S. “Instead, the U.S. sent a message of exclusion to the world. This is a low day for the U.S. – for not doing the right thing when the world called on us to show leadership, for failing to show that we respect and stand up for the rights of people with disabilities, no matter where they happen to live.

“The opposition to the CRPD presented false arguments– this treaty has been fully reviewed by Department of Justice, and deserved swift passage.”

Handicap International staff in 60-plus countries implement the CRPD in their daily actions and through more than 300 projects. Teams witness the power of disability rights and the implementation of the CRPD in developing countries – the treaty works and helps to ensure the inclusion of persons with disabilities.

Vietnam Veteran John Lancaster, a member of the Handicap International board, and a leading voice in the U.S. disability rights community, was disappointed in the outcome. In July, he told the Foreign Relations Committee, “We aspire to what’s in this convention. This is what we’re about as a nation: including people, giving them freedom, giving them rights, and giving them the opportunity to work, to learn, to participate. Isn’t this what we want the rest of the world to be about?”

Handicap International is encouraged that Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and John McCain (R-AZ) have indicated they will continue to push for the passage of this crucial Treaty.

About Handicap International
Co-winner of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize, Handicap International is an independent international aid organization. It has been working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster for 30 years. Working alongside persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups, our actions and testimony are focused on responding to their essential needs, improving their living conditions, and promoting respect for their dignity and basic rights. Since its founding in 1982, Handicap International has set up development programs in more than 60 countries and intervenes in numerous emergency situations. The network of eight national associations (Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States) works constantly to mobilize resources, jointly manage projects and to increase the impact of the organization’s principles and actions. Handicap International is one of six founding organizations of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, and winner of the 2011 Hilton Humanitarian Prize. Handicap International takes action and campaigns in places where “standing tall” is no easy task.

Handicap International coordinates Making it Work which offers a methodology for documenting good practices on inclusion of people with disabilities in line with the CRPD. The organization also manages Source, an online resource center that strengthens the management, use and impact of information on disability and inclusion in development and humanitarian contexts.

Images available upon request.

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