The American Association for the Advancement of Science and 10 other Science and Human Rights Coalition member organizations sent a joint letter to Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) urging them to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which recently passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The Convention was adopted by the UN in 2006 in an effort to acknowledge a universal understanding that persons with disabilities are not "objects," but "subjects with rights, who are capable of claiming those rights and making decisions for their lives based on their free and informed consent . . ." The Convention would allow each country to implement provisions within its own legal system, and also urges signatories to cooperate and invest in research and development on adaptive goods and services, as well as assistive technologies. Currently, the Convention has 158 signatories.
This letter, in addition to recent organizational statements and resolutions by Coalition members supporting disability rights, grew out of the sessions held at the January 2014 Coalition meeting. At that meeting, panels explored the role of science and technology in protecting and advancing the rights of persons with disabilities, as well as the important benefits to everyone when people with disabilities are full participants in science and engineering. AAAS has long supported increased participation in the scientific community by persons with disabilities; most recently, the AAAS Board of Directors released their own statement in support of ratification of the CRPD.