The U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) contains problematic content with concerning implications for personal liberty as well as state and national sovereignty. This page provides a brief overview of the CRPD’s most troubling provisions.
Read, download, and share our fully-annotated 15 Critical Issues with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities available here.
1. The CRPD provides no specific definition of "disability."
4. Any state sovereignty on the issue of disability law will be eliminated.The rule of international law is that the nation-state that ratifies the treaty has the obligation to ensure compliance. This gives Congress total authority to legislate on all matters regarding disability law—a power that is substantially limited today. According to Article 4(5), “The provisions of the present Convention shall extend to all parts of federal states without any limitations or exceptions.” State sovereignty over family law disappears.
Section (e) of the Preamble states that “disability is an evolving concept,” leaving the door open for an ever-changing and expanding definition. This term is crucial to the treaty, and without a firm definition it cannot be said with certainty exactly how broadly the treaty will apply.
2. Article 4(1)(e) applies the treaty to “any person, organization or private enterprise.”
This opens the door for greater government intrusion into private lives. On its face, this provision could mean that every home owner could be required to make their own home fully accessible to those with disabilities.
3. Article 4(1)(a) demands that all American law on this subject be conformed to the standards of the United Nations.
5. The CRPD puts the laws affecting disabled Americans into the hands of U.N. bureaucrats.
This treaty removes the majority of public policy decisions concerning the disabled from the purview of American representatives, subjecting those decisions instead to international law. Such a move is NOT in the best interest of disabled Americans. The U.N. does not have a successful track record in competent oversight and intervention. Disabled Americans deserve to be protected by American laws made by American representatives, not by U.N. bureaucrats.
6. The U.N. would gain an ongoing supervisory role over American policy.
Articles 34-39 establish a committee of experts chosen by ratifying nations with authority to evaluate whether those nations are meeting their obligations under the treaty. Those obligations cover 25 different areas of political, economic, social, cultural, and even family life. Ratification, therefore, would officially sanction the U.N.’s ongoing supervisory role over numerous aspects of American life. Even if the American people and their elected representatives should act on a given matter, the United Nations would still have a formal role to scrutinize and evaluate.
7. Contrary to the rhetoric of its proponents, the CRPD goes far beyond anti-discrimination.
While the treaty does contain many anti-discriminatory provisions, it is full of other requirements, including rules for public and private entities about developing new technologies in a manner conscious of all disabilities, providing education and health services, ensuring rights to movement and expression, and much, much more. This opens the door for extended government reach into many aspects of life and business.
|8. The government will get to decide what is best for children with disabilities.
Article 7(2) advances the “best interests of the child” standard “in all actions concerning children with disabilities.” This is the identical standard found in the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). It has been applied to mean the government – acting under U.N. directives – gets to determine what is best for children with disabilities. The current legal presumption that fit parents act in the best interest of their child would be eliminated
9. The CRPD would increase the government’s authority to take children away from their parents.
Article 23(4) allows for the removal of children from their parents any time “competent authorities subject to judicial review determine…that such separation is necessary for the best interests of the child.” This would replace the current requirement that parents be found unfit before the courts gain this authority.
10. Prior protection of parents’ rights to direct education of their children will be eradicated.
Article 24 on Education does not repeat the parental rights rules of earlier human rights treaties such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights or the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, nor does it affirm the parental rights explicitly protected in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This is an important omission. Coupling this omission with the direct declaration of “the best interest of the child” standard in Article 7(2), this convention is nothing less than the complete eradication of parental rights for the education of children with disabilities.
11. All corporal punishment will be outlawed.
Article 15’s ban on “inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” is not limited to persons with disabilities. It says, “No one shall be subjected to ….inhuman or degrading treatment.” This is the exact same language used in the CRC which has been interpreted by the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child to prohibit parents from spanking their own children. This would constitute a complete ban on spanking in the United States.
12. The CRPD establishes abortion rights for the disabled.
According to Article 23, the disabled have a right to make reproductive health and family planning decisions and a right to be educated about those decisions and given the means to carry out those decisions. Simply put, the government must pay for Planned Parenthood-styled education and then fully fund all medical services needed for such matters.
13. The CRPD mandates entitlement to the redistribution of resources.
Article 4(2) introduces “economic, social and cultural” entitlements as “rights” for the first time in U.S. domestic law, requiring that the United States use its maximum resources for “the full realization of these rights.” This obligates our government and our tax dollars to provide health care (Article 25(b)), “an adequate standard of living,” and “continuous improvement of living conditions” (Article 28(1)).
| 14. The U.N. will have input on how the US spends its money.
Article 4(2) requires the United States to use its maximum resources for compliance with these standards. The U.N. has interpreted similar provisions in the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child to criticize nations who spend too much on military issues and not enough on social programs. There is every reason to believe that the U.N. would interpret these provisions in a similar fashion. The U.N. believes that it has the power to determine the legitimacy and lawfulness of the budget of the United States to assess compliance with such treaties.
15. The US will be required to pay for poorer nations.
As a wealthy nation, the United States would be obligated to fund disability programs in nations that could not afford their own programs under the dictates of Article 4(2). This is what “the framework of international cooperation” means.
16. Abortion rights, homosexual rights, and disarmament polices could be strengthened.
Article 6(2) is a backdoor method of requiring the United States to comply with the general provisions of the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. This treaty enshrines abortion rights and homosexual rights, and demands the complete disarmament of all people.
17. The CRPD provides no additional benefits to Americans with disabilities.
Signing this treaty is not necessary to preventing discrimination against the disabled in America. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, upon its review of the treaty, concluded, “in view of the reservations to be included in the instrument of ratification, current United States law fulfills or exceeds the obligations of the Convention for the United States of America.” Current laws already do as much or more for the disabled than the Convention would require.
The Unites States already leads the world in providing appropriate access to persons with disabilities. We lead—not because international law has required us to do so— rather; we lead because in the United States we believe that every single person is endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights. We have nothing to gain but much to lose by ratification of the CRPD.
18. The RUDs (Reservations, understandings, and declarations) created by the Senate will not provide protection from the problems in the CRPD.
The Senate has authored a number of reservations, understandings, and declarations (RUDs) in order to address some of the concerns over the CRPD. However, Article 46 states that “[r]eservations incompatible with the object and purpose of the [CRPD] shall not be permitted,” a judgment reserved to the U.N committee. Further, such reservations and conditions attached to treaties have long been controversial domestically. Former State Department Legal Adviser Harold Koh has questioned whether such declarations have “either domestic or international legal effect.” (Koh, “Is International Law Really State Law?” 111 Harvard Law Review 1848, 1829 n. 24(1998).) So, while the State Department attempts to allay concerns by promising reservations, understandings, and declarations, their own legal adviser doubts that such additions are actually valid. Under Article 46, he may well be right.
To read HSLDA's legal analysis of the proposed RUDs from the 2012 session, click here.