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Do Human Rights Treaties Matter: The Case for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People

Updated: Dec 17, 2019

Author: Arlene Kanter


In the United States, and throughout many other parts of the world, we are witnessing attacks on basic human rights. As poverty, inequality, and suffering are evident in so many parts of the world today, there are those who say that the entire human rights regime has failed. This author does not agree. While it is true that human rights treaties have not realized their full potential in every country that has ratified them, human rights treaties do “matter.” This Article makes the case for human rights treaties by referring to the success of the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD), which was adopted by the UN in 2006 and has been ratified by 177 countries. The CRPD has spurred the development of new laws, policies, and practices that are transforming societies and offering new protections and opportunities for people with and without disabilities. The CRPD is also creating new norms within the international human rights system itself. Based on the impact of the CRPD to date, the human rights treaty regime has not only not failed but is, in fact, thriving.


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