Thornburgh, Reich Implore Bush Administration To Back United Nations
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 3, 2004
WASHINGTON, DC--In a letter published in Wednesday's Washington Post, former U.S. attorney general Dick Thornburgh and former deputy assistant secretary of state Alan Reich urged President Bush to support an international Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities currently being considered by a United Nations committee.
The Bush administration announced last June that the U.S. government would not sign any international treaty protecting people with disabilities from discrimination. Administration officials said such rights should be covered by national measures, such as the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act. While the U.S. would support the work or the panel, the administration said it would not sign any document that could be legally binding.
Thornburgh and Reich argued that few countries are in a position to lead the effort like the United States, with its leaders in the disability rights community.
"Here is a remarkable opportunity to share America's national experience with our global partners -- to export the innovative concepts of the ADA through the United Nations and to offer our expertise in an area of the law where we excel in legal precept and in practical application," they wrote. "If the United States directs a change in course and joins in this enlightened effort to advance the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, we will seize a chance to show the world the best of America."
"America's disability community includes many experts who have offered their services to help advance this U.N. process. But for its first two years, the U.S. delegation, sent only to observe, did not include one person with a disability. This is equivalent to sending an all-male delegation to a U.N. meeting on women's rights."