July 12, 2012 Print

Senate Considers Adopting U.N Measure Regarding Disabled People

by Karla Dial

As a first step toward ratifying a controversial United Nations resolution, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing today on how to care for disabled people.

According to the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the “best interests of the child” is the gold standard for deciding how those with disabilities are educated — and by whom, and in what setting.

If two-thirds of the senators choose to ratify it, the treaty would become binding, and supersede all existing federal and state laws concerning parental rights, said Michael Farris, chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association, who testified at the hearing.

“The changes to American law that will be required to comply with the provisions of this treaty are profound and utterly unacceptable,” he said. “Specifically, the changes regarding the rights of parents who have children with disabilities — which includes thousands of homeschooling families — are absolutely inconsistent with the basic constitutional principles of parental rights.

“The ratification of this treaty would constitute the most dangerous departure from the principles of American sovereignty and personal liberty in the history of the United States Senate.”

President Obama signed the CRPD in 2009, and sent it to the Senate in mid-May for ratification.

However, the treaty doesn’t just affect homeschooling families. All taxpayers, through the “framework of international cooperation,” would be obligated to help finance compliance measures in other countries that can’t afford them. And most importantly, Farris warned, it would subjugate the country to United Nations.

“If the United States becomes party to a treaty, all of the legal consequences which flow from this act of ratification will be limited to the territory of the United States,” HSLDA administrators explained in a position paper. “Article 4(2) requires the United States to use its maximum resources for compliance with these standards. The U.N. has interpreted similar provisions to criticize nations who spend too much on military issues and not enough on social programs. There is every reason to believe the U.N. would interpret these provisions in a similar fashion. The U.N. believes it has the power to determine the legitimacy and lawfulness of the budget of the United States to assess compliance with such treaties.”

Farris was one of only two people to speak against the treaty, out of the seven who testified. The others included officials from the U.S. Department of State and the Department of Justice.

A vote has not been scheduled.

Read the testimony provided by all of today’s witnesses.

Read the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Read HSLDA’s Official Issue Paper on the matter.

Read a letter from the Ad Hoc Coalition for American Self-Government, which includes CitizenLink, to the U.S. Senate about the measure.