President-elect Joe Biden has nominated Ambassador Samantha Power Head of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This is a significant moment for human rights defenders. It recalls the Biden administration’s commitment to re-establishing United States leadership in advocating for human rights and working with our international allies in developing strategies in support of the most vulnerable.
According to the WHOOver 1 billion people live with a disability. 80% of people with disabilities live in developing countries and are regularly abused and discriminated against. Women and girls with disabilities are the most vulnerable and experience physical abuse and marginalization United Nations.
Samantha Power is a globally recognized human rights defender who fought fiercely for Syrians during the height of the Syrian civil war and called on the Assad regime for violating international norms Use of chemical weapons As a journalist in the Balkans, she informed the public about atrocities against women. “as a war tacticAnd called for accountability for those involved in these crimes.
The fight for the rights of people with disabilities will not play a new role for Ambassador Power. Under the Obama administration, she worked closely with the appointed disability advisors who helped shape strategies for US leadership in a country multilateral response to protect against disabilities. In his announcement In appointing Ambassador Power to lead USAID, Biden recognized her as “a world renowned voice of conscience and moral clarity that challenges and brings together the international community to stand up for the dignity and humanity of all people”. Vice-President-Elect Kamala Harris said This ambassador power “will not only help uplift the world’s weakest and advance our nation’s interests around the world, it will be a powerful voice for the values and ideals we as Americans value.”
One of the most precious values Americans have is the belief that everyone should have access to the resources and be treated with dignity regardless of their abilities. The United States is one of the few countries that has laws that prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities and ensure that their human rights are protected. The 2006 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is an international agreement that provides countries with a framework to make certain people with disabilities enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms. The US signed the CRPD in 2009 but has not yet ratified it. A Democratic majority in Congress could help ratify the CRPD, which would again demonstrate US commitment to supporting the rights and dignity of people with disabilities in the US and around the world.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all UN members in 2015, calls for nobody to be left behind. 2020 has shown that people with disabilities and their support systems are severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. A Including disability COVID-19, led by the United Nations, provided UN member states with a systematic approach to assisting people with disabilities during the pandemic. However, there is evidence that many people with disabilities have lost access to their services and support systems due to COVID-19, leaving them feeling isolated and forgotten.
At the same time, the pandemic weighed heavily on carers. For many who need to work from home, do not have relief services available, and have added responsibility to perform some of the much-needed services at home, caregivers have been asked to carry too much weight on their shoulders. The Biden administration should establish a plan to support people with disabilities and their caregivers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Both the United Nations and the WHO are calling on states to assess the obstacles facing people with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic and develop long-term solutions for reconstruction inclusive and accessible societies. Ambassador Samantha Power should encourage USAID to work closely with disability counselors and people with disabilities to develop such strategies and share them with US partners in the international community.
Disability activists hope that the Biden administration and USAID, led by Ambassador Samantha Power, will prioritize the rights of people with disabilities as one of their constituent parts of national and international human rights policy.