In 2007, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously declared April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day, aiming to promote the rights and well-being of the autistic around the world.
While we who are already “aware” of autism get worn out sometimes by “awareness” campaigns, today’s message from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reminded me of an important international campaign that deserves our attention here at home:
Tragically, in many parts of the world, these individuals are denied their fundamental human rights. They battle discrimination and exclusion. Even in places where their rights are secured, too often they still have to fight for basic services.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities provides a strong framework for action to create a better world for all.
In his call to participate in a “shared vision of a more inclusive world,” the Secretary-General references the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) – entered into force in 2008. This international human rights treaty, which extends the ideals of the Americans with Disabilities Act across the globe, has been ratified by 143 nations. Sadly, the CRPD has not been ratified by the United States – despite the advocacy of over 750 disability-rights groups (including disabled veterans) – due to misunderstandings and fear over the perceived effects of international agreements on domestic laws. It is shameful that the United States is allowing itself to be left out of the discussion and implementation of global disability rights.
Ratification of the CRPD is an important cause for autism advocates in the US. Because the CRPD aims “‘… to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity,’ It is a solid tool to foster an inclusive and caring society for all and to ensure that all children and adults with autism can lead full and meaningful lives.”. ~ UN World Autism Awareness Day
The United States should be a world leader in supporting the rights and personhood of people with autism and all disabilities. The CRPD ensures that other countries follow the spirit and promise of the ADA, and our ratification of it would allow the US to demonstrate support of the disabled worldwide, participate in the discussion on international disability rights, and strengthen our national commitment to the rights and human value of all people.
For this April’s autism awareness, I am holding a vision of acceptance and inclusion on a global scale.
Please go to www.disabilitytreaty.org to learn more about the CRPD and why it is imperative that the US complete its ratification. Click on their Action Center to sign a petition and contact your Senators. Listen to Sen. Tom Harkin here and send him your stories to urge the Foreign Relations Committee to ratify this treaty.