ADL, Jewish Federations regret failure to ratify disabilities treaty

WASHINGTON (JTA) – Two national Jewish groups expressed regret at the U.S. Senate’s failure to ratify a disability rights treaty.

The Senate on Tuesday voted 61-38 in favor of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, but it needed a two-thirds majority, or 67 votes, for ratification. All the no votes were by Republicans, who said they objected to considering the pact during a lame-duck session of Congress and warned that it could pose a threat to U.S. sovereignty, according to The Associated Press.

The U.N. international human rights treaty is designed “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.” Some 126 countries have ratified the treaty, and 154 countries have signed but not ratified the treaty, like the United States.

The Anti-Defamation League in a statement noted that the treaty had as its basis existing American law, the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.  

"The adoption of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) set an important standard against discrimination that is too rare in countries around the globe where people with disabilities are marginalized and denied basic protections," ADL said in a statement. "This treaty simply aims to take our own model standard to countries around the world to empower and protect people where they live. We are profoundly disappointed that 38 Senators did not see fit to affirm America’s commitment to be a global leader promoting the promise of equality and human dignity for all."

Also expressing regret was the Jewish Federations of North America.

“We hope that the next Congress will take this up so we as a nation are able to ensure individuals with disabilities are supported on an international scale,” said William Daroff, vice president of public policy and director of the JFNA’s Washington office.

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