Advocacy and Training Resources

The following are relevant and useful advocacy and training materials on the issue of legal capacity:

1. Inclusion International, Independent But Not Alone: A Global Report on the Right to Decide, 2014 (pdf)

Article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) reflects a fundamental shift in thinking: it asserts that with support all people with intellectual disabilities are able to make decisions and have control in their lives. This global report by Inclusion International presents the perspective of over 600 people self-advocates, family members, disability advocates, and professionals, and more than 80 organizations from more than 40 countries worldwide on the right to decide. The key findings of the report include:

  • Invest in empowerment, self-advocacy and strengthening a collective voice
  • Independence does not mean “alone”
  • Families have a critical role to play in building the social connections necessary for supported decision making
  • Family based organizations must play a leadership role as agents of change in community
  • The Right to Decide cannot be achieved without community inclusion
  • The Right to Decide is about more than the removal of guardianship and substitute decision making
  • Legal reform must go hand in hand with strategies for building community supports and supports for decision making

2. Mental Disability Advocacy Centre (MDAC), Right to Legal Capacity in Kenya, 2014 (pdf)

The report highlights the voices of people with mental disabilities themselves for the first time, outlining the need for substantial legal and social reform, and provides comprehensive recommendations to bring Kenya in line with international law, and specifically right to legal capacity guaranteed by Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

3. European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, Legal capacity of persons with intellectual disabilities and persons with mental health problems, 2013 (pdf)

This report presents the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights’ (FRA) legal analysis of current standards and safeguards concerning the legal capacity of persons with intellectual disabilities and persons with mental health problems. It uses legal and sociological research methods to highlight discrepancies between the CRPD – ratified by 24 European Union Member States and the EU itself, the first supranational government to ratify a human rights treaty – and the implementation of its standards on the ground. This report analyses the current international and European legal standards and compares EU Member States’ laws in the area of legal capacity.

The report twins this analysis with the lived experiences of a small number of interviewees regarding the loss of legal capacity and other restrictions on their ability to take decisions. This socio-legal approach provides an overview of the legal situation in an area of rapid and significant reform with an insight into how such laws impact the daily lives of those they most directly affect.

4. Mental Disability Advocacy Centre (MDAC), Legal Capacity in Europe, 2013 (pdf)

The purpose  of  the report  is  to  call  on  governments  and  the  institutions  of  the  European Union to take concrete law and policy actions so that all people with disabilities have their right to legal capacity, and have access to supports to exercise it.

The report has 8 chapters. Chapter 1 presents a roadmap to the report. Chapter 2 sets out why guardianship is in dire need of reform. Chapter 3 sets out a vision for equality and inclusion and also analyzes the deficiencies of some existing data on guardianship in Europe  Chapter 4 provides advice  to  governments  about  the  provisions  which  they  could  consider adopting in legislation to give practical effect to the CRPD obligations. Chapter 5 lays out some of the learning which MDAC  has  gathered  over  the  last  few  years  as  they  have  interacted  in  various  ways  with  non-governmental  organisations and governments in eleven European countries. Chapter 6 looks at the obligations of EU institutions under CRPD. Chapter 7 provides a snapshot of legal capacity law reforms in 16 European jurisdictions. Chapter 8 contains references for further reading.

5. Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Who gets to decide? Right to legal capacity for persons with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities, 2012 (pdf)

The bulk of European legal capacity systems are outdated and in urgent need of  law  reform.  The  assumption  of  legal  capacity,  which  all  adults  of  majority  age  should  enjoy,  has  to  be  extended  to  persons  with  disabilities.  It  redirects  our focus away from personal deficiencies towards putting into place supports that  enable  individuals  to  make  decisions  for  themselves  and  expand  their  capacities to do so. This Issue Paper describes the challenges faced by Council of Europe member states in dealing with the issue. These include the flaws of current guardianship systems  and  procedures,  the  automatic  loss  of  human  rights  of  those  placed  under  guardianship  regimes  and  the  pressing  need  to  develop  support  alternatives giving persons with disabilities equal opportunities to shape their life paths.  The  paper  outlines  the  applicable  international  human  rights  frame-work,  including  the  relevant  case-law  from  the  European  Court  of  Human  Rights. It concludes with examples of good practice to show the way forward.

6.Inclusion Europe, Position Paper on Legal Capacity- Key Elements of a System for Supported Decision-Making, 2009 (pdf)

Article 12 of CRPD introduces a fundamental shift of thinking from substitute decision-making to supported decision-making of disabled people. This position paper aims to  identify  some  of  the  necessary  conditions  for  the  transposition of this paradigm shift into national laws. While the concrete transposition will   be   rather   different   for   countries   which   become   States   Parties   to   the   UN Convention,   depending   on   legal   structures   and   traditions,  this  Position  Paper  sets  out  to  consider  crucial elements without which national laws may fall short of the intentions manifested in Article 12.  For  supported  decision-making  to  become a reality, States Parties are not only required to  consider  reforms  of  their  national  guardianship  legislation,    but    it    is    furthermore    important    to        implement   a   number   of   non-legal   structures   and   measures    in    addition    to    the    necessary    legal    instruments, for example promotion and support of self-advocacy, selection and registration of support persons, overcoming communication barriers and implementing safeguards. Since  the  issues  related  to  legal  capacity  are  linked  to  the  basic  structure  of  our  societies,  it  is  also  important    to    ponder    some    of    the    underlying    philosophical   questions   in   order   to   develop   an   adequate approach to the question at hand.