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VCIL Decries U.S. Senate Vote On International Treaty

December 5, 2012

The Vermont Center for Independent Living is disheartened by the outcome of the vote held in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday defeating ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

CRPD is a treaty that describes the obligations of ratifying countries to promote, protect, fulfill and ensure the rights of persons with disabilities. The treaty embodies the American ideals that form the basis of the Americans with Disabilities Act – empowering persons with disabilities to be independent and productive citizens.

Sarah Launderville, executive director of VCIL, traveled to Washington, D.C. early this week and was watching as the vote took place.

“I looked around at leaders of our country as they ripped from those of us in the disability rights community a voice on the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,” she said, referring to the assembly set up by the CRPD.

“The partisan politics that played out in front of my eyes was a hard pill to swallow,” said Launderville. “Misinformation resulted in swaying a vote that cut the U.S. disability community out of a voice at the table.”

The United States signed the CRPD on July 30, 2009, joining 141 other signing nations. On May 17, 2012, following almost three years of inter-agency review, the Obama administration submitted its treaty package to the Senate for its advice and consent for ratification. Signature of a treaty only conveys preliminary endorsement and demonstrates a country’s intent to examine the treaty domestically and consider ratification. Ratification of the CRPD would have shown the serious commitment of the United States to disability rights.

Launderville commended Vermont senators Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy for voting for the treaty. She said, “I was proud that our Senators saw past the lies and understood the intent of the treaty and the opportunities it brought our country.”

VCIL will not give up on this important work. Launderville noted, “As we continue to work to protect the expected budget cuts, attacks on Social Security and Medicare we continue to remain vigilant and reach out to those in the disability community and allies to join us in our efforts.”