April 10, 2015 marks the launch of PERSON’s 12-week Right to Act campaign.
What is the Right to Act campaign?
The Right to Act Campaign is a 12-week online campaign publicizing the importance of legal capacity for people with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities and the problems of guardianship law and other restrictive systems. The Right to Act campaign was developed as part of the EU-PERSON project, which is an ongoing partnership among seven leading civil society organizations working on issues of disability, law, and human rights in the Balkans and Turkey.
Over the course of the next 12 weeks, we will be sharing daily posts about the Right to Act, including personal experiences of success in exercising the right to act, cases being shared where people have had their ‘right to act’ restricted in some way, information about good practices and local campaigns to protect the right to act, particularly in the Balkans and Turkey.
Why April 10?
April 11, 2014 was a historic day. On that day the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was interpreted by the UN Committee for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in a General Comment, which affirmed that international human rights law required a broad shift from substituted decision-making, as in guardianship, toward supported decision-making. This means that the 151 countries that have ratified the CRPD are required to give effect to the right to act for people with disabilities on an equal basis with others.
Why is the UN convention so important?
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was adopted in 2006, and became the first human rights treaty of the twenty-first century. The CRPD was the fastest negotiated human rights treaty in the history of the United Nations. The writing and negotiating of the CRPD included unprecedented involvement at all levels of people with disabilities themselves, and of civil society organizations worldwide.
Article 12 of the CRPD affirms that all persons with disabilities are entitled to equal recognition before the law, and that this includes recognition of legal capacity on an equal basis with everyone else. The 2014 General Comment to Article 12 confirms that all people with disabilities have full legal capacity, “simply by virtue of being human.” (para. 14) In cases where people may need support to exercise their legal capacity, the Article 12 General Comment imposes on states an obligation to provide this support. This support can take many forms, from plain language information to supported decision-making via a ‘circle of support’ to assist a person to make and give effect to decisions about their life. Legal change is required where people’s legal capacity to act are restricted simply by virtue of a person having an intellectual or psychosocial disability, as is the case in many countries.
Article 12 sets forth clear and stringent requirements for the 151 state signatories to the CRPD. For virtually all states parties, there is still a long way to go in reforming laws, changing practices, and making legal capacity a reality for all people with disabilities. The Right to Act campaign is an effort to support these critical reforms.
What Can I Do?
- Sign the declaration! Express your support for the principles of the right to act, supported decision-making, and legal capacity as a human right due to all.
- Write to a local politician or minister responsible for these issues. Ask these people to sign the declaration, to address issues of guardianship, the right to act, and the CRPD, or request a meeting to discuss these issues with them.
- Speak with local organizations of self-advocates, professionals who support the right to act, or other associations in your region. Ask how you can get involved and help out!
This document has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of PERSON (Partnership to Ensure Reforms of Supports in Other Nations) and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.