Mental Disability Advocacy Center Clarifies Advances of UN Convention for those with Mental Disabilities
Budapest (Hungary) and New York (US), 13 December 2006 – The UN General Assembly yesterday adopted a landmark disability convention, the first human rights treaty of the twenty-first century and one that United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said represents the 'dawn of a new era' for around 650 million people worldwide living with disabilities.The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is the first legally-binding treaty which protects and promotes the rights of people with disabilities, including those with psycho-social disabilities (mental health problems) or intellectual disabilities.
The CRPD consists of 50 articles covering civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights as well as addressing non-discrimination in all aspects of public and private life. Adopting the social model of disability, the CRPD:
- contains the groundbreaking right to live independently and be involved in the community. For the first time there is a direct legally binding obligation on States to make deinstitutionalisation a reality.
- ensures that people with disabilities have legal capacity on an equal basis with others in all aspects of life. States must change their outdated guardianship provisions to recognise supported decision-making.
- enshrines the right to informed consent to medical treatment. In conjunction with legal capacity on an equal basis with others this provision gives people with disabilities and their advocates a strong tool to combat forced interventions.
- prohibits any disability-based discrimination in deprivation of liberty, an issue which most often affects people with psycho-social or intellectual disabilities.
- obliges States to protect and promote the rights of people with psycho-social or intellectual disabilities on an equal basis with people with other types of disabilities.
MDAC Executive Director Oliver Lewis said,
'The adoption of the Convention is being celebrated around the world. It has the potential to change the way societies and legal systems treat persons with disabilities. Governments must now commit to ratifying and fully implementing the Convention, a document which they have all taken part in drafting.'
MDAC Senior Advocacy Officer Gábor Gombos has spoken widely of his own experiences of the mental health system, and on behalf of MDAC participated in the work of the UN Ad Hoc Committee that negotiated the Convention. He commented,
'The Convention could not have come into existence without the contribution of persons with psycho-social and intellectual disabilities, who, together with other disability groups and their allies have worked tirelessly over the past five years to make the treaty a reality.'
The UN General Assembly also adopted the Optional Protocol to the CRPD, which enables individuals to communicate complaints. The Protocol also enables the treaty monitoring body to make inquires in case of grave and systemic violations of rights protected under the Convention. MDAC will be taking every opportunity to use the mechanisms provided by the Convention and its Optional Protocol in order to advance the rights of adults and children with actual or perceived intellectual or psycho-social disabilities.
For more information contact Gábor Gombos at firstname.lastname@example.org, tel +36 1 413 27 30.
Mental Disability Advocacy Center
H-1241 Budapest, PO Box 263, Hungary
tel: (+361) 413-2730
fax: (+361) 413-2739