The U.S. Senate is again reportedly working to revive a controversial United Nations treaty surrounding government policy on disabled people, which was narrowly rejected late last year amid fierce public opposition. A broad coalition of critics has slammed the scheme as an assault on American sovereignty and liberty, as well as a dangerous precursor to further usurpations of power. However, while a coalition of Republicans was able block the previous attempt at ratification, reports suggest that the outcome could be different this time if citizens do not rally together to stop it.
Formally dubbed the UN “Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities” (CRPD), the Obama administration-backed measure purports to subjugate U.S. policy to planetary bureaucrats. Under the guise of helping the disabled — who in the United States already have among the most robust protections in the world — the treaty contains a broad range of international mandates that the U.S. government must supposedly adhere to, subject to UN verification and monitoring.
Everything from education and health to employment and culture is covered in the convention. The term “disability,” however, is not even defined — it is described as an “evolving concept,” opening the door to potentially innumerable intrusions. According to analysts, the UN CRPD covers more than 25 distinct areas of American law. Implementation and enforcement of all of the international dictates contained in the convention, meanwhile, would be monitored by a planetary committee organized under the UN — a scandal-plagued outfit widely blasted by critics as “the dictators club.”
Under heavy pressure from homeschooling advocates, pro-life organizations, conservative think tanks, and other political heavyweights, 38 GOP senators voted against a coalition of a few “RINO” Republicans and UN-loving Democrats to stop the treaty on December 4, 2012. To be considered ratified, the convention requires the support of a two-thirds majority in the Senate. Ever since the humiliating defeat, however, pro-UN forces have been vowing to get it through while trying to resurrect it.
Previous efforts to bring the treaty back up this year were unsuccessful, apparently after its supporters failed to muster enough votes to secure a different outcome. Their opportunity may be coming up soon, though. Last week, sources on Capitol Hill and more than a few reports suggested that UN CRPD proponents are tentatively scheduling hearings on the controversial treaty set to take place potentially within weeks, hoping to have it ratified by the end of the year.
“By now, this feels like déjà vu all over again, but the truth is we could be in more danger than last time,” explained attorney Michael Farris, president of the pro-family group ParentalRights.org. “CRPD advocates will almost certainly have no trouble getting it out of committee, and when they do, we will be in a similar position to last fall when Harry Reid tried to sneak it through by ‘unanimous consent’ in a mostly-empty Senate chamber.”
This time around, however, the situation could be even worse, Farris continued, suggesting that as many as three of the senators who opposed the treaty last year might be willing to support it if and when it comes up again. “Our margin is not a narrow five votes, but a razor-thin wall of only two,” he added. “Unfortunately, we’re going to have to gear up and fight this yet again.” ParentalRights.org is also working to pass a constitutional amendment, the “Parental Rights Amendment,” which it says would permanently kill the threat of UN scheming to American parents and children.
Home-education advocates are also gearing up for the anticipated Senate battle. The Home School Legal Defense Association, for example, recently declared that its “number one priority” right now is making sure that the controversial UN disability treaty is not ratified by the U.S. Senate. Citing a range of radical mandates under the CRPD, HSLDA Director of Federal Relations William Estrada said last week that homeschooling families must remain on guard — especially considering reports that hearings on the treaty have already been tentatively scheduled for early next month.
“HSLDA believes that it is unconscionable that our elected representatives would consider ratifying a treaty which would give government officials the power to decide what is in the best interests of a child with disabilities,” said Estrada. “Loving parents, not government officials, should make this decision. HSLDA strongly opposes a national database for children with disabilities. And we are firmly against the ratification of any treaty which would allow the UN to oversee how our nation protects precious citizens with disabilities.”
Urging members to reach out to friends, family, homeschoolers, and parents, Estrada noted that America already has “the gold standard” in terms of protecting the rights of people with disabilities. Americans, he continued, “must be ready” to stop the treaty if and when it comes up again. “Surrendering our nation’s sovereignty to unelected, unaccountable UN bureaucrats is not just of concern to homeschool parents,” concluded Estrada, also an attorney. “Every parent and every American citizen should be concerned.”
Heritage Foundation Distinguished Fellow Kim Holmes, a former assistant secretary of state, also sounded the alarm about the treaty this summer, when reports suggested it could be resurrected at any moment. The CRPD, he said, “will open the door to harmful U.N. meddling in America’s domestic affairs,” among other problems. “On top of that, U.N. oversight committees often distort the very meaning of these agreements,” Holmes added, calling it a “bad treaty.”
Pro-life activists are also warning about the threats posed by the treaty, which purports to require that national governments guarantee access to “reproductive health” — in other words, everything from taxpayer-funded abortion and contraception to sterilization and sexual education. During the previous CRPD battle, Family Research Council chief Tony Perkins cited Article 25 of the agreement mandating such schemes. “Translation: the global community could force America to sanction sterilization or abortion for the disabled — at taxpayer expense,” he warned, echoing widespread concerns.
In the Senate, meanwhile, criticism among liberty-minded lawmakers — and even some traditionally associated with the establishment — has been fierce. In a July speech on the Senate floor, for example, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) first pointed to his own long track-record of support for disability legislation before saying that he could not support the CRPD. “The cost to American sovereignty and self-government clearly outweighs any concrete benefit to Americans,” he said.
“Ratifying it would create a wide range of obligations for the United States and authorize the United Nations to determine whether we are meeting those obligations,” Sen. Hatch explained, adding that ratification would endorse “an official ongoing role for the United Nations in evaluating virtually every aspect of American life.” It would also give the UN — rather than the American people — the final say on whether the U.S. government was meeting its “obligations” in the broad range of policy areas covered under the treaty, he said.
Supporters of the treaty mostly claim that it would not have much of an effect on U.S. law. Instead, they argue, the primary reasons to support it include “leading” the world to respect the rights of disabled people and helping disabled Americans abroad. Of course, as countless analysts and lawmakers have pointed out, U.S. ratification of the treaty would do no such thing, as evidenced by all of the other controversial UN treaties on “human rights,” ending discrimination, and more.
For Obama and certain Senate Democrats, however, ratifying a treaty that would supposedly do virtually nothing appears to be worth a great deal of political capital. “I know how disappointing it was last year when the Senate failed to approve the disabilities treaty,” Obama claimed during an August speech. “But we’re going to keep fighting to ratify that treaty, because the United States has always been a leader for the rights of the disabled.... It’s the right thing to do. We need to get it done.” Secretary of State John Kerry, who also appears to have never met a sovereignty-threatening UN treaty he did not support, called on the Senate to ratify the scheme as well.
With the administration and a coalition of establishment senators determined to ram the UN treaty through the Senate as soon as they can, advocates for homeschooling, parental rights, unborn children, liberty, national sovereignty, the disabled, and the U.S. Constitution are all calling on Americans to get involved and stop it. After the disabilities treaty, the UN and its supporters in the U.S. Senate also hope to ratify an even more radical agreement: the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
The UN has become increasingly brazen in making outrageous demands of the American people on everything from state sovereignty to self-defense. Instead of ratifying or even considering more agreements with the dictators club, U.S. lawmakers should work to defund and withdraw from the scandal-plagued UN entirely. Legislation already in Congress, H.R. 75, would do exactly that. With the UN out of the picture, Americans and their unalienable rights would at least be protected from power-hungry foreign regimes and planetary bureaucrats determined to dictate U.S. policy.
Alex Newman is a correspondent for The New American, covering economics, politics, and more. He can be reached at