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December 6th, 2012
07:18 PM ET

Tonight on AC360: Outrage over defeat of disability treaty

This week the U.S. Senate blocked a U.N. treaty aimed at protecting the rights of disabled people around the world. 125 countries have ratified it. The treaty is modeled on the American Disabilities Act, which Congress passed in 1990. However, 38 Republican senators voted against the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), leaving it five votes short of ratification.

Tonight Anderson talks with the son of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy. Ted Kennedy Jr. lost a leg to cancer when he was a child. He feels the Republican Party has turned its back on disabled Americans with this vote. “It’s a sad day for people with disabilities, and it’s a sad day for the U.S Senate,” Kennedy tells Anderson. “You ask yourself… who could be against a treaty that basically affords people with disabilities the same rights and opportunities of everyone else?” Kennedy believes several Republicans are to blame for the treaty’s demise after they spread “fiction” and “innuendo.”

In fact, several Republican senators said they supported the treaty, but they ended up voting against it this week. We’ll show you the flip-floppers tonight on the program.

Former GOP U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum led the charge against the treaty. Santorum’s four-year-old daughter, Bella, was born with a rare genetic disorder. He explained his opposition to the treaty in an op-ed published Wednesday by the Daily Beast. “CRPD gives too much power to the U.N., and the unelected, unaccountable committee tasked with overseeing its implementation, while taking power and responsibility away from our elected representatives and, more important, from parents and caregivers of disabled persons,” wrote Santorum. “We should be telling the U.N., not the other way around, how to ensure dignity and respect for the disabled,” he added later.

Keeping Them Honest, Santorum’s claims aren’t supported by the facts. Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a proponent of the treaty, called out Santorum on CNN’s The Situation Room. “He either simply hasn’t read the treaty or doesn’t understand it,” Kerry said Wednesday. “The United Nations has… no legal capacity to tell the United States to do anything under this treaty. Nothing.”

Here’s why: The treaty calls for the creation of a committee that can issue only non-binding recommendations on how nations can do better on disability. The key word: Non-binding. It does not require any changes to current U.S. federal or state laws.

Does Kennedy believe the U.S. will eventually pass the treaty one day? We’ll have that and much more tonight. Watch this preview and tune in for the full conversation at 8 and 10 p.m. ET.

Update: See the full interview here

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Filed under: Anderson Cooper • Congress • Tonight on AC360 • United Nations
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. H.E Brandon Jones-McGeer

    Let me state the following,

    The O.C.B Administration and the U.S Burn Support Organization is completely shocked by the negative voting process in the United States House of Representatives, as it does nothing but make it harder for those with Disabilities to obtain their required supportive services. People with Disabilities should be used as pones in the political realm- they should be respected at all times and this treaty "convention" give that required platform and it also would showed the world- the United States of America treats its Citizens with Disabilities with the utmost Respect & compassion. Your government shall do the same..........

    Come-on, the United States is the Light "hope" for those with Disabilities around the World and they turned down- something that would have helped millions!!!!!!!!!

    December 11, 2012 at 11:59 am |
  2. Charles

    I was following a sun slant downtown, trying to medicate a vitamin deficiency, when a couple of wheel-chaired citizens rolled by, one with a panhandling sign. Seeing them underlined a headline in the corner box, on the day after the U.S. Congress failed to ratify the U.N. treaty supporting the rights of disabled people world-wide, a treaty modeled on the first President Bush’s Americans with Disabilities Act and supported by over 120 nations—U.S. right-wing politicians having disgustingly concocted a conspiracy theory regarding the U.N.’s intentions.
    I am a disabled person; lovingly helped by many, I’ve gained the strength to withstand much. I support the disability activists who are raising their voices against injustice world-wide!

    December 10, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
  3. Jason

    Is this the most inept Congress in U.S. History? Debt ceiling, fiscal cliff, political posturing.. I am so sick of the GOP and Congress as a whole. What happened to this party? Why can't we the people who happen to be disabled not have the same rights and opportunities everyone else has?

    December 7, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • Bob

      I agree with you Jason. There are so many things happening in the United States that do not make any sense. However, saying that, I cannot say that I know 100% about this particular, so I could be missing something, but over all the US is turning into a house divided and we all know what that will lead to. And it seems that those in power are oblivious to it all.

      December 9, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
  4. Beverly Fudala

    Hello,
    There is something I'm confused about. Isn't there something in the United Nations Treaty that protects disabled people. Was the treaty, that was voted down, going to protect disabled people more?
    Thank you.

    December 6, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
    • Paul Manogue

      No this was it. And what are you trying to say that we should only protect disabled people a certain amount? Is there a line that you draw and say they can only be protected this much? What is that line? Is it OK to beat a disabled person but not rape them? I am seriously confused about why anybody would oppose this bill. The only explanation i can come up with is either hate or ignorance. I think in this case of most people it is a little bit of both.

      December 7, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
  5. Denise Robins

    It is disgusting that these Senators have so little empathy for others. Voters should take note of how their Senator voted, and hold that Senator accountable when he or she is next up for election.

    December 6, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
    • Carmel

      Totally agree with you Denise.

      December 14, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
  6. Tom W. Plant, Jr.

    Republicans proved themselves to be liars prior to the POTUS election, but not passing the CPRD is totally rediculous and the reasons given by the Tea Party idiots who voted against the Treaty are far south of total stupidity. I believe you could amass the total brain capacity of these 38 senators into the cranium of a mosquito and that would be like placing a B-B in a boxcar.

    December 6, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
    • Wendy

      Very cool analogy!!

      December 9, 2012 at 1:16 am |
  7. Rebecca Nichols

    Really I cannot believe the UN Treaty for the disabled failed to be pass. What idiots!!!! We should be able to send politicians to prison for lying. NO for being idiots. I have had enough of stupidity. When did we throw out common sense. Maybe it is time for an uprising in the USA.

    December 6, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • RaNae

      I agree with you. I can't believe that it didn't pass, this would involve not only disabled military but special needs and others. How stupid can the ones that didn't vote for it be????

      December 7, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • Ken Holloway

      I believe America should be very careful when signing these types of treaties. We should all be concerned about any UN treaty that is ratified by Congress or signed by the President that could allow the UN control, intervention into our daily lives. Maybe the disability treaty needs written in a way that it specifies exactly what it means. I'm for rights for the disabled by why must it be in a treaty? Article 6 of the Constitution is very specific about treaties we sign becoming the law of the land. Let's just make sure we don't sign away our rights and freedoms that those before us have fought so hard for us to keep. Better to be safe now than sorry later.

      December 7, 2012 at 8:42 pm |