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July 3, 2012

How the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities would Threaten Family Integrity

William A. Estrada, Esq.
Director of Federal Relations


HSLDA Chairman Mike Farris has previously written about the history of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and 10 specific problems with the CRPD.

In addition to these 10 reasons, the CRPD would create special dangers for families with children who have disabilities, and in particular, families who choose to homeschool their children with disabilities.

Danger Number 1: Attack on Parental Rights

Like the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the CRPD1 attacks the authority of parents and adds the government as a primary decision maker in a child’s life. The CRPD uses the same language that is found in the CRC regarding children with disabilities: Article 7(2)–(3) provides:

2. In all actions concerning children with disabilities, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.
3. States Parties shall ensure that children with disabilities have the right to express their views freely on all matters affecting them, their views being given due weight in accordance with their age and maturity, on an equal basis with other children, and to be provided with disability and age-appropriate assistance to realize that right.

Under traditional American law, the government may not substitute its judgment for that of the parent until there is proof of abuse, neglect, or some other form of harm to the child. The “best interests of the child” standard is commonly only used under traditional American law in child custody cases when the parents disagree about an arrangement regarding their child and a judge then makes a ruling taking into account “the best interests of the child.” Under this language in the CRPD, however, judges and government officials will be required to primarily consider “the best interests of the child” in any action that concerns a child with disabilities.

Furthermore, as paragraph (3) provides, “States Parties”—the federal government—will be required to ensure that children with disabilities “have the right to express their views freely … and to be provided with disability and age-appropriate assistance to realize that right.”

In these two sweeping paragraphs, ratification of the CRPD would fundamentally alter the parent-child relationship in any family where the child has a disability. Many families who have children with disabilities decide to homeschool in order to better care for their children. If the CRPD were to be ratified, these families would have their parental decisions supervised and possibly overturned by government officials, if there was any difference of opinion between the child and the parents.

Danger Number 2: Requirement for a National Registry

Article 18(2) provides:

2. Children with disabilities shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and, as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by their parents.

We do not doubt that the writers of this convention want to help children with disabilities. History, however, has shown that some governments in the past have used databases or registries of people with disabilities as a way to exercise control over a specific population. Additionally, many families would be very concerned to have their children with disabilities listed on a national registry or database. Families may be concerned with the potential danger of having their children’s personal information accessed by hackers. Other families may be concerned with the government having all of their child’s personal information—solely because that child has a disability.

Parents, not the government, should decide who has what information about their child.

Danger Number 3: Loss of Sovereignty

The CRPD, just like the Convention on the Rights of the Child, will create an international committee of “experts” with the power to supervise nations that ratify CRPD, to make sure that they are taking steps to enforce the requirements of CRPD. This strikes at the heart of our system of representative government, where American citizens vote for the men and women who represent us in our state legislatures and in Washington, D.C. This committee of “experts” from foreign nations has never received a vote from a U.S. voter. This committee would be able to make rulings regarding people with disabilities that U.S. judges could use as binding precedent.


CRPD is a United Nations convention which is dangerous for America and not even necessary. Our nation’s laws protect the rights of everyone, and the Americans with Disabilities Act has ensured that those with disabilities today have unprecedented opportunities.

CRPD would threaten American families and advance an agenda that is out of touch with America. We would be wise to reject this convention.


1. All references to the U.N. CRPD are from the text of the treaty located on the United Nations website.

 Other Resources

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: A Danger to Homeschool Families