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USA: Treaty signing signals policy shift

2009-07-25 11:32:42

Disabilities Convention Will Be First Human Rights Treaty Signed by US in Nearly a Decade

(New York) July 24, 2009 -- The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which President Obama is scheduled to announce today that the US will sign, will be the first international human rights treaty signed by the United States in nearly a decade, Human Rights Watch said today. Obama is scheduled to make the announcement at a White House event this afternoon.

"This treaty was created to make sure that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else and are fully included in society," said Joe Amon, director of the Health and Human Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. "This is a real victory for both that goal and for the disability rights advocates who have worked so hard for it."

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2006 and was signed by 82 countries when it opened for signature on March 30, 2007. Today 140 countries have signed, and 61 have ratified. It requires governments to prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities and support their dignity, autonomy, and full participation in society.

Amon said that signing the treaty sent a broader signal about US respect for international law.

"For nearly a decade, the US has been on the sidelines as new treaties have been developed and existing treaties gained international support," he said. "By signing the Disabilities Convention, the US is beginning to reassert leadership on international human rights."

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