Human Rights Watch World Report

Human Rights Watch World Report 2012

From Paternalism to Dignity - Respecting the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

"The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)— the most recent comprehensive human rights treaty — reaffirms that persons with disabilities have rights, and challenges the inequality and discrimination inherent in laws that infantilize individuals with disabilities. Respect for inherent dignity, independence, individual autonomy including the freedom to make one’s own choices, and non-discrimination are among the CRPD’s core principles.

The convention compels us to start with the premise that people with disabilities have the same rights and equal recognition under the law as all others. The CRPD also acknowledges that persons with disabilities may, in certain situations, need support exercising their rights.

However, the convention does not spell out how the right to legal capacity and supported decision-making should be implemented. As a result, disability advocates, legal experts, and governments find themselves trying to interpret the scope of these provisions, while providing rights-affirming alternatives to old patterns of guardianship and substituted decision-making.

Disabled peoples’ organizations (DPOs) and persons with disabilities, who were key actors in advocating for and drafting the treaty, must be engaged and take the lead in this process. Indeed, the CRPD itself requires that states involve DPOs and experts with disabilities in implementing and monitoring the treaty."

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