For Mayer Brown partner Carolyn Osolinik, the upcoming anniversary of the day the Americans With Disabilities Act became law has special significance.
Osolinik, who represents the United States International Committee on Disabilities on a pro bono basis, is urging the Senate to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by July 26 — 22 years after President George H.W. Bush signed the ADA into law.
Under the 2006 treaty, which President Barack Obama signed in 2009 and sent to the Senate on May 17, 2012, for ratification, countries must create and implement measures that provide equal rights to persons with disabilities. The convention currently has 153 signatories and 116 ratifications.
Ratification of the treaty by the United States is “overdue,” she said.
“It is very important because it enables Americans with disabilities to live and work around the world,” said Osolinik, who also is assisting the Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice of the New York City Bar Association with efforts to help some Latin American countries that have ratified the convention with their work to comply with the treaty.
Marca Bristo, president and chief executive officer of the United States International Committee on Disabilities, praised Osolinik’s efforts, saying the lobbyist has devoted a substantial amount of time and energy on efforts to secure the ratification of the treaty. “She’s been just tremendous,” Bristo said.
Osolinik’s advocacy efforts on behalf of the United States International Committee on Disabilities began in June 2010, after Edward Kennedy Jr., the son of Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), encouraged her to take up the engagement. She served as an aide to the senator on the Senate Judiciary Committee from 1981 to 1992, receiving what she called a “terrific education” on disabilities rights.
And the senator was grateful for her assistance. In remarks from 1990 included in the Congressional Record, Kennedy singled out Osolinik and one of her colleagues for their work on the legislation.
“I am very proud to have worked side by side with them for more than [two] years on this landmark legislation,” he said.