The US media top story tonight? A war of words between the Cambridge police, a Harvard professor and President Obama. Distracted by the frenzy, much of the media missed how President Obama ended his day: Signing a global UN treaty to protect the human rights of people with disabilities. Along with many others, MindFreedom played a role in crafting the treaty inside the United Nations.

President Obama announces US intention to sign UN treaty on disability (AP).

24 July 2009

MindFreedom News Release

President Obama marked the 19th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act by instructing UN Ambassador Susan Rice to sign an historic United Nations “convention” or treaty next week on disability and human rights, joining 140 other nations.

“It’s the first new human rights convention of the 21st century,” Obama said at in the White House East Room.

MindFreedom International — uniting a broad constituency of mental health consumers, psychiatric survivors, mental health professionals, advocates and others concerned with fighting for human rights in the mental health system — praised President Barack Obama’s announcement about signing the UN International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

Celia Brown, MFI Board president, led a team of MindFreedom members inside the United Nations during years of meetings to create the treaty. Celia has been widely praised by cross-disability leaders for her warm and inclusive community-building at the UN.

Said Celia, “We appreciate that the President is fulfilling the commitment he made to the Convention during his campaign. His leadership indicates that human rights can be a cornerstone for people with disabilities in the United States and around the world.

“The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities represents a paradigm shift of understanding disability from a medical model to a social model. The CRPD recognizes the key principles of non-discrimination, freedom to make one’s own decisions, and to have the opportunity to be actively involved in policies that effect our lives.”

The MindFreedom International UN Team participated in UN meetings with a diverse alliance of leaders from disability organizations including the International Disability Caucus (now the International Disability Alliance), CRPD Forum and World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiiatry.

MindFreedom International was instrumental in conducting workshops during the UN convention negotiations to educate people with disabilities and governments on the perspectives of human rights of users/survivors of psychiatry.

David Oaks, Director of MindFreedom International, and a board member of the United States International Council on Disability (USICD), said, “We look forward to the Senate reviewing the treaty for ratification as a significant step to winning human rights for the 650 million people in the worldwide disability community.”

Judy Heumann, former Clinton Administration appointee, board member of USICD, and participant in the negotiations to draft the treaty, said, “This treaty reflects the unique insights of disabled people from around the world. The participation of disabled people in decision-making about policies affecting our lives is changing the way we are regarded in our communities and by our governments,”

Susan Rice, the United States State Ambassador to the UN, will officially sign the Convention on the Rights of Persons wih Disabilities on July 30, 2009 at the UN Headquarters on July 30, 2009 in New York City.

For further information, please contact : or Celia Brown at

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