Senate Rejects United Nations’ Version of the Americans with Disabilities Act


Last week the Senate voted against the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Countries around the world are voting on this key piece of international legislation. Patterned after the Americans with Disabilities Act, the law seeks to promote an inclusive and accessible environment for persons with disabilities all over the world. Debate among U.S. legislators was heated as they discussed the two sides.

Ultimately, the senate did not reach the necessary two-thirds majority needed to ratify the UN legislation. The vote ended at 61 to 38, with all Democrats voting in favor and support from only eight Republicans. Here is a brief summary of the opposing arguments.


Legislators on both sides of the aisle supported the UN Treaty, including Senators John Kerry, John McCain and former Senator Bob Dole. They assert that passage of the treaty would ensure that disabled persons all over the world receive the same rights as those in America. Passage of the law would not only provide greater accessibility for residents in foreign countries, but also Americans with disabilities traveling internationally.

Many view the rejection as a step backwards. They feel not passing the UN treaty shows a great disconnect and a loss of federal leadership in continuing to fight for the rights of people with disabilities.


Opponents of the UN Treaty say the issue is not the merit of the law, but rather American sovereignty. Signing the treaty would empower foreign bureaucrats to dictate U.S. law under the pretense of “worldwide application.” They assert that existing U.S. law already provides a tremendous amount of protection for people with disabilities. The UN treaty is unnecessary and threatens U.S. authority and the rights of parents to decide what is best for their children. discouraged passage of the treaty, claiming legislators received more than 1,000 letters from people opposed to its passage.

Contact us to find out more about how the Americans with Disabilities Act affects you.