Historic Hearing in US Senate on UN Disability Treaty

We are delighted to welcome this guest post from Professor Gerard Quinn Director of the Centre for Disability Law & Policy at NUI Galway.

A historic hearing took place yesterday (Thursday, July 11th) in the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.  The issue before the Committee was US ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).  In the US system the Senate must gives its ‘advice and consent’ before the Federal Government can ratify a treaty.  A two thirds majority vote is needed from the full Senate before the Administration can proceed to ratification.  This is an exceedingly high bar but, especially after yesterday, it looks likely to be met.  It is now almost a foregone conclusion that the Committee – chaired by Senator John Kerry (D-Mass) – will commend a positive vote to the full Senate.

This really matters not just for the US but also for the rest of the world.  And it would certainly up the ante for Irish ratification.  The traditional bi-partisan approach of the US Congress was splendidly exemplified in opening remarks made to the Committee by Senators John McCain (R-Ariz) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).  The symbolism of their joint appearance spoke volumes about the natural reflex of both parties in favour of the civil rights of persons with disabilities.  Indeed, both of them relayed the support of former President H W Bush as well as former Senator Bob Dole.  This immediately took the issue out of the cauldron of partisan politics and placed it where it should be – as matter of high principle. Continue reading “Historic Hearing in US Senate on UN Disability Treaty”

Historic Hearing in US Senate on UN Disability Treaty

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) celebrates its 21st birthday

Today the Americans with Disabilities Act celebrates its 21st birthday. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 1990 was a pioneering law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability and enshrined in law the concept of equality for persons with disabilities and it has been hugely influential in shaping anti-discrimination law across the world. The ADA represented a significant landmark in the disability rights movement, it was the culmination of a civil society movement across the United States that fought hard to remove barriers that prevented persons with disabilities participating within their communities and society.  The ADA has a wide-ranging scope extending to state and local governments, employers, and to the public and private spheres in the supply of goods and services.  Not to overstate the point but the ADA went beyond the traditional concepts of anti-discrimination law in enshrining the concept of reasonable accommodation in the legislation. Reasonable accommodation requires the removal of barriers that restrict Continue reading “The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) celebrates its 21st birthday”

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) celebrates its 21st birthday