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The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Floor Speech

Location: Washington DC

Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, I want to say a few words about the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

I am pleased to report that the Foreign Relations Committee approved this Treaty on July 26, the 22nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. I am also pleased that, like the ADA, the Disabilities Convention has strong bipartisan backing.

This treaty is personal to so many of us. I am deeply grateful to our committee members for their thoughtful input on the treaty and the resolution of advice consent, and to Senator McCain and former Majority Leader Dole, who are as deeply committed to this cause as Senator Kennedy was to the original Americans with Disabilities Act.

Passing this treaty isn't just the right thing to do. It is also the smart thing to do. It will extend essential protections to millions of disabled Americans, including our disabled service men and women and veterans, when they travel, study, work, and live abroad. In addition to enshrining the principles of the ADA on the international level, the convention will provide us with a critical tool as we advocate for the adoption of its standards globally standards to which all of us should aspire. By joining, we put ourselves in a stronger position to advance the goals of equality of opportunity, independent living, economic self-sufficiency, and full participation for individuals with disabilities.

The Disabilities Convention is a reflection of our values as a nation. It is who we are from the Civil Rights Act to the Voting Rights Act to the ADA. We saw how America responded to horrifying civil rights images--our country met collectively to right a wrong at home and break the back of Jim Crow. Now is the time to step up and meet collectively to help make it right for the millions of Americans with disabilities when they are overseas and for the hundreds of millions of disabled individuals throughout the world.

This is one of those moments the Senate was intended to live up to--and it calls on all of us to provide leadership and find the common ground. The winners of this treaty will not be defined by party or ideology. The winners will be the American people.

I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure that the Senate approves the Disabilities Convention during the 112th Congress.

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