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Mental Health, Legal Capacity, and Human Rights

Charlene Sunkel, Faraaz Mahomed, Michael Ashley Stein, Vikram Patel

Law / General

"The passage of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD or the Convention) has been hailed as the culmination of a 'paradigm shift' from the biomedical model of disability to the social and human rights-oriented model. The CRPD's assertion of equal recognition before the law applying to all persons with disability, including mental health and psychosocial disability, and thus amounting to universal legal capacity, in Article 12 and in the subsequent General Comment, Number 1 issued by the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, has been the subject of considerable debate. While many have argued that this is a protection and manifestation of non-discrimination and freedom from coercion, some have raised concerns based on perceived impracticality or risk. Among the obligations of States parties to the Convention is the mandate to shift from coercion, to supported decision-making regimes, relying on a 'will and preference' standard rather than a 'best interests' standard. Even while debate around the exact nature and scope of Article 12 and General Comment 1 continues, efforts to end coercion in mental health and to promote supported decision-making have been gaining momentum around the world"--

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