Business Leaders Call on U.S. to Ratify Rights of People With Disabilities

There is one glaring omission to increasing efforts to protect the rights of people with disabilities globally. The United States is one of the few developed nations that has not ratified the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

The US Business Leadership Network, an organization founded to help business drive performance by leveraging disability inclusion in the workplace, supply chain and marketplace, and DiversityInc are calling on business owners and executives to sign a letter appealing to the U.S. Senate to ratify the CRPD. Committee hearings began this week with a vote expected later this month.

While the U.S. would not commit to anything beyond laws that are already on the books, ratification of the CRPD would reaffirm the government’s support for people with disabilities. “What the convention endeavors to do,” said Don MacKay, chairman of the committee that negotiated the treaty, “is to elaborate in detail the rights of persons with disabilities and set out a code of implementation.”

Countries that join the CRPD agree to:

  • abolish laws, regulations, customs and practices that constitute discrimination;
  • guarantee equal rights for women and children with disabilities;
  • prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability;
  • ensure equal rights to own property, control financial affairs and access bank loans, credit and mortgages;
  • protect the physical and mental integrity of people with disabilities;
  • guarantee freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse;
  • prevent illegal or arbitrary interference of the privacy, family, home, correspondence or communications of people with disabilities;
  • ensure that people with disabilities can live independently, be included in the community and choose where and with whom to live;
  • ensure equal access to the environment, transportation, public facilities and services, and information and communications technologies, amongst other rights.

A total of 139 countries from all reaches of the globe—from Afghanistan to Argentina, Bahrain to Belgium, Canada to Croatia, Israel to Iran, Mexico to Mozambique, Panama to Papua New Guinea, Spain to Swaziland and Yemen to Zimbabwe—have ratified the CRPD.

About 10 percent of the world’s population—approximately 650 million people—live with a disability, making them the world’s largest underrepresented group. This includes approximately 20 percent of the world’s poorest people and 30 percent of youths that are on the streets.

A resolution to ratify the CRPD made it to the Senate floor for a vote last December, but failed to reach the two-thirds majority needed to pass. The final vote was 61-38 in favor of ratification, with all 38 “nay” votes coming from Republicans. Eight Republicans joined the full Democratic caucus to support the bill.

As part of DiversityInc’s fourth annual global-diversity research report, we will be surveying companies about their global efforts to recruit, engage and promote people with disabilities. This research includes information about specific countries’ efforts to require companies to hire people with disabilities. The global survey will be distributed by the end of November and will be due in March. To participate in the global survey, contact

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