[JURIST] President Barack Obama announced Friday that the United States will sign the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities [official website; JURIST news archive]. At a celebration commemorating the 19th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 [DOJ materials], Obama said that US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice [official profile] has been instructed to sign the convention next week. After the United States signs the convention, it must still be ratified [Senate materials] by a two-thirds majority in the Senate. The US move was met with widespread approval [HRW news release; IDRM press release] by international and human rights organizations, as the US Bush administration declined to sign the convention [JURIST report] at the time it was adopted, citing what it characterized as sufficient protective laws already in effect in the country.
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities entered into force [JURIST report] in May 2008, and has been signed by 140 members and ratified by 60. The landmark treaty protects the 650 million persons living with disabilities worldwide [UN fact sheet] and holds that all disabled people should be treated as full-fledged citizens and completely integrated into society. The treaty also includes an Optional Protocol [Protocol text] granting individuals the right to petition a committee of experts for violations of the Convention after all national procedures have been exhausted.