The Right to Act!

The Right to Act!

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Why is it important?

Worldwide, people with disabilities are denied the right to make decisions about how they want to live their lives. Guardianship and other mechanisms of substitute decision-making replace a person’s own wishes, decisions, and preferences with the decisions of someone else. When a person is placed under guardianship, they are denied the legal capacity to act.

If a person lacks the right to act, another person can make major and minor life decisions without that person’s consent. The guardian can decide what clothes a person wears, whether and how the person can spend her money, where she can live, what kind of medical treatment she will receive, and even whether or not she can be in a relationship. This outdated approach to ‘support’ and ‘protection’ must end.


All persons should have the right to act as part of their basic human rights. Implementing the right to act means that countries must transition from guardianship and substituted decision-making to legal capacity, the right to act and, where needed, supported decision-making. Laws must be reformed worldwide to create systems that comply with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)  and that recognize the equal right to act for all people.

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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.