Washington, D.C., May 31, 2012 – The Women’s Refugee Commission applauds last week’s bipartisan announcement from Senators McCain (R-AZ), Durbin (D-IL), Moran (R-KS), Harkin (D-IA), Barrasso (R-WY), Coons (D-DE) and Udall (D-NM) affirming their support for United States ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Ratification of the Convention, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2006, would not only further strengthen the rights of Americans with disabilities, it would also strengthen U.S. efforts to protect those with disabilities affected by conflict and humanitarian crises abroad.
“Displaced people living with disabilities are among the most hidden and neglected of all displaced people,” said Sarah Costa, Executive Director of the Women’s Refugee Commission. “Ratification of the treaty would raise awareness of the issue and further demonstrate strong U.S. leadership in support of persons with disabilities.”
The CRPD prescribes actions for states that want to “ensure and promote the full realization of all human rights . . . for all persons with disabilities without discrimination.” The U.S. government has signed but not ratified the Convention, which now requires Senate approval. So far, 153 countries have signed the treaty, and 112 of those have ratified it.
Around the world, an estimated 6.5 million refugees and internally displaced people live with disabilities, including physical, mental or sensory disabilities, in refugee camps and urban slums. Some displaced people have lived their entire life with a disability, while others have become disabled in the fighting that led to their displacement or forced migration to a refugee camp.
Displaced people living with disabilities are often excluded from or face barriers to accessing humanitarian assistance programs. When their specific needs are overlooked, displaced people with disabilities often become even more isolated following their displacement than they were in their home communities. The Convention provides the legal framework to start bringing about change in these situations.
“The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities would inform and shape our foreign assistance programs and improve the lives of people in humanitarian settings,” said Costa. “The benefits of the treaty are very real for both Americans and for displaced people around the world who live with disabilities.”