Home School Legal Defense Association
P.O. Box 3000, Purcellville, VA 20134



For Immediate Release Contact: Michael Farris Jr.
November 20, 2013 (540) 338-5600

Senate Considers UN Treaty Despite Growing Skepticism


PURCELLVILLE, VA—The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold what is most likely the final hearing tomorrow on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Secretary of State John Kerry, a chief supporter of the treaty, is slated to testify. It is likely the Committee will try to send the treaty to the full Senate sometime in December.

The CRPD failed to pass last year when it fell short of the required two-thirds majority in the Senate by five votes.

The Foreign Relations Committee convened new hearings on November 5 of this year during which several Republican members voiced their hesitance to support the treaty.

Senator Jeff Flake (AZ) asked several questions regarding Bond v. United States, a case before the U.S. Supreme Court in which an individual was prosecuted by the federal government under legislation passed by Congress after the Senate ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention. Senator Flake asked witnesses whether there was the possibility that the Court’s ruling, which will not come until next year, could affect how the CRPD is implemented in the United States. When witnesses could not provide a definitive answer because no one knows how the Court will rule, Senator Flake urged the Senate to wait on ratifying the CRPD until the Bond case is decided.

Proponents of the treaty claim that it is important for the United States to ratify the treaty to continue to be a global leader, even though all agree that the United States already sets the gold standard for disability rights. Supporters of the treaty, however, cannot demonstrate that the treaty has had any positive impact on countries that have ratified it. Former Attorney General Richard Thornburgh was asked at the November 5 hearing for specific examples, but could not provide any. “I don’t have any particular insight into this, but I think you have able staff who could perhaps put together a compilation from around the world of the kind of positive changes,” he told the Foreign Relations Committee.

AMVETS, a national veterans organization that formerly supported the treaty, withdrew support this year after they found that the treaty, which went into effect in 2008, has no “measurable, positive effects on veterans with disabilities traveling or serving abroad.” They sent a letter to Senators Bob Menendez (NJ) and Bob Corker (TN) on July 19, 2013, announcing their decision to withdraw support for the treaty, citing “growing skepticism.”

Michael Farris, Chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) and a vocal opponent of the treaty, says this is no surprise. “We’re being told how great this treaty is and how it will improve the lives of disabled Americans, yet no one can find substantial evidence that supports this,” he said. “The same people trying to sell this treaty to us are the same people who told us, ‘If you like your health insurance plan, you can keep it.’”

There are numerous dangers posed by this treaty, including threats to sovereignty, and the danger that the treaty’s “sexual and reproductive health” language could be used to advance abortion. Farris says a top danger of the treaty is the best interest of the child clause. “The best interest of the child clause, found in this treaty and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, is fancy language for saying the government knows better than parents when it comes to raising kids,” he said. “We saw just recently a court in England take an 18-year-old young man who suffers from cerebral palsy away from his mother because they thought they could better serve the best interest of the child. While we have no clear indication of whether or not the CRPD was used in this case, this is the kind of thing we’ll see if we ratify this treaty.”

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Home School Legal Defense Association is a nonprofit advocacy organization established to defend and advance the constitutional right of parents to direct the education of their children and to protect family freedoms.