June 07, 2019

CUA Law Professor Lucia Silecchia spoke at the 29th Annual Conference of University Faculty for Life in Mundelein, IL. She presented the paper "The absence of End-of-Life Protection in The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities." The paper explores the ways in which euthanasia and assisted suicide statutes worldwide have a disproportionate impact on people living with disabilities and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities -- the world's most expansive treaty on the rights of those with disabilities -- does nothing to combat this danger. The paper is a companion to a 2013 critique she wrote regarding the flaws in the Convention.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Reflections on Four Flaws that Tarnish Its Promise

Journal of Contemporary Health Law and Policy, Vol. 30, No. 1, 2013
CUA Columbus School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2014-1


On December 13, 2006, the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities ("CRPD"). Widely touted as the "first comprehensive human rights treaty of the 21st century," and effusively praised for its open negotiation process, the CRPD was opened for signature on March 30, 2007. The CRPD quickly entered into force on May 3, 2008. As it rapidly amassed signatories, the CRPD inspired great hope that its comprehensive approach would do much to overcome the consistent failure to promote the dignity of those with disabilities in meaningfully concrete ways.

The CRPD has garnered much recent and renewed attention as the Senate debates American ratification of the Convention and the United Nations studies the relationship of the CRPD to the Millenium Development goals. This recent attention - which is both ongoing and new - offers an opportunity to reexamine the CRPD, its promise, and its limitations. This brief reflection does not seek to explore the legal strengths and weaknesses of the CRPD - a task that has been ably and often undertaken by others. It also does not purport to analyze the pros and cons of U.S. ratification of the CRPD - an issue that is, in many respects, distinct from questions about the merits of the CRPD itself. Instead, these reflections suggest that there are four fundamental flaws in the philosophical and anthropological foundations of the CRPD that need to be addressed or, at least, fully appreciated, before the CRPD can truly live up to the high ideals that it sets for itself. The CRPD is now an important part of international law, and the likelihood of solving these four problems seems slim. However, as the world community moves forward under the framework of the CRPD, acknowledging that these four weaknesses exist may better equip advocates and policy-makers to remedy them in ways that will allow the CRPD to achieve its potential to advance and protect the rights of those with disabilities.

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