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Render therefore to the United Nations?

By Cheryl K. Chumley
web posted May 24, 2004

"Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." Matthew 22:21 had it right. Some things are better left to the domain and devices of God.

Such is with H. Con. Res. 169 and S. Con. Res. 52, two congressional measures aimed at partnering with the United Nations to create a treaty that roots out and halts discrimination against those with mental and physical impairments.

"...the United States government should support the human rights and dignity of all persons with disabilities by pledging support for the drafting and working toward the adoption of a thematic convention on the human rights and dignity of persons with disabilities by the United Nations General Assembly to augment the existing United Nations human rights system," the resolutions read.

A mouthful, yes, but what these resolutions say at root is that almost 30 in Congress want to join the United Nations in regulating compassion worldwide. The reason?

"The time has come to end the marginalization of disability in the quest for universal human rights," World Committee on Disability Chair Alan Reich told the House floor on April 30. He said this during a remarks session headed by H. Con. Res. 169 sponsor Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) to sway Congress and the president to assume a lead role in developing, then joining, this treaty at the U.N. level.

The treaty itself is still in the development phase. In January, a working group of U.N. represenatives – the Ad Hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities – prepared a draft text of the document, based largely on the provisions of our own nation's Americans with Disabilities Act. ADA, in general, prohibits employers with more than 15 employees from discriminating against applicants and workers with proven impairments, and provides a means by which victims of prejudice can seek legal redress.

What ADA does not do, and cannot do, however, is change the hearts of those who would seek to discriminate against persons with handicaps in the first place. True change of this nature can really only come from within and only during an awakening to spiritual enlightenment.

So the fact that ADA can claim success at overcoming a form of workplace discrimination in this country at all can only be attributed to one of two reasons: Either fear of the law forces compliance or adherence to such basic spiritual teachings as "The Golden Rule."

So which of these two reasons for obedience is the stronger? One need only look to our own nation's jails and the abundance of violators of human laws for answer.

The question then becomes why are some in Congress pursuing a largely futile path of anti-discrimination policy that will not lead to global justice and equality for all, as hoped, but rather place this nation – already the world's leader with individual rights, as based on adherence to Judeo-Christian Founding Father principles – at risk of ceding even more sovereign authority to the United Nations?

What this treaty calls for are parties to "take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination on the ground of disability by any person, organization or private enterprise," Article Four states.

Article Seven, while still being debated, nonetheless suggests discrimination shall be defined as "direct, indirect and systemic, and shall also include discrimination based on actual or perceived disability."

Article 19 demands, in absence of cost consideration, "the development and remodelling of public transportation facilities" and "the construction and renovation of public buildings, roads and other facilities" to ensure accessibility to all those with disabilities.

And Article 22 "encourage(s) employers to hire persons with disabilities, such as through affirmative action programs, incentive and quotas."

These are but a handful of treaty provisions that hold the potential to regulate America's business sectors, both private and public, at the global level and all in the very loosely-defined name of equality for all.

Not that a quest for "universal human rights," as Reich dreamed, is an unworthy pursuit. But why does the very pro-human right America need to enter a covenant with the very anti-individual right United Nations to regulate how to achieve this goal, especially when realization of such a goal is more tied to a changing of hearts than enforcement of law?

Better for America's interests would be to involve herself with the promotion of worldwide anti-discrimination policy in a manner that still preserves her sovereignty. Such means could include America's participation in or hosting of informal awareness and educational meetings with pertinent private and government officials who hold authority to shape civil rights policy – and perhaps include in discussion even those responsible for guiding the spiritual development of the nations' people.

Politically incorrect, maybe. But in this scenario, America shows and proves her concern for the rights of those in the world at-large without compromising sovereignty.

In this scenario, too, America – dare I say? -- puts her faith in God rather than government, in belief and in acceptance that the state of human hearts and the display of human compassion are not areas rightly under the control or jurisdiction of Caesar.

Cheryl K. Chumley is a freelancer and contributing columnist to www.thedailycannon.com and www.newswithviews.com. She may be reached at ckchumley@aol.com.

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