Special Advisor Judith Heumann Comments on Disabilities Treaty Obligations
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Special Advisor Judith Heumann Comments on Disabilities Treaty Obligations

January 19, 2020

MS. WOODRUFF: To Judy Heumann, to you again,
since this treaty does not, as I understand it, have enforcement mechanisms – there’s
no way a country can be required or forced to make accommodation for people with disabilities,
to give them rights – what’s the point of a treaty like this? MS. HEUMANN: When other countries are ratifying
the treaty and when the U.S. ratifies the treaty, they’re obligating themselves to do
the best they can to implement various articles. So it’s kind of a good-faith effort. There
is no entity that can say you’ve done this wrong and you must do such and such. But for example, in the United States, one
of the things that we discuss overseas is we have good laws that have been developed
involving the Congress and civil society. A good law to us also has good implementation
provisions and also has enforcement provisions. If a law is to mean anything, it needs all
of those characters. And we want to be able to work with other governments and civil society
to get them to understand if they’re going to be developing laws, for example, on new
construction, they need good standards. We can work with them to help them look at what
a good standard is, because we’ve got decades of experience. We can help them get a better
understanding of when a standard is not enforced, is there a government agency that can go back
in, a government agency of the government that ratified the treaty, to go back in and
say you have not done this correctly, this is what you need to do, which is what we have
in this country.

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