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Hagel Urges US Senate To Ratify Treaty On Disability Rights

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has urged the US Senate to ratify a United Nations treaty that protects the rights of people with disabilities and extends them full equality under the law in participating nations, the American Forces Press Service reported Thursday.

"On behalf of America's service members, [Defense Department] civilians, and military family members with disabilities, I urge the United States Senate to approve the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities," Hagel was quoted as saying in a statement issued Wednesday

The treaty opened for signature in 2007 and came into force in May 2008 after 20 parties ratified it. Although the United States signed the convention, a Senate vote held last year on the treaty failed to ratify it.

One of the legacies of the past 12 years of war is that thousands of young Americans will carry physical wounds for the rest of their lives, Hagel stressed in his statement.

"These wounded warriors deserve to have the same opportunities to live, work, and travel as every other American, and to participate fully in society whether at home or abroad," he added.

Joining the treaty will allow the United States to help in shaping international practices for people with disabilities that are consistent with the nation's high standards for access and opportunity, the secretary said.

Hagel noted that personnel who have family members with disabilities are often forced to choose between their families and their careers when considering assignments in other countries.

"Treating people with respect and dignity is one of the fundamental values of the United States armed forces. It is a value that our men and women in uniform fight for around the world," he said.

"Failing to approve this treaty would send the wrong message to our people, their families, and the world. Approving it would help all people fulfill their potential. That's why I strongly support swift Senate action," the Defense Secretary added.

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