National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy

Using the UN Convention in Legal and Political Strategies to End Forced Treatment
Tina Minkowitz, J.D.


The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities effectively prohibits guardianship, psychiatric detention and forced treatment, and adopts a support model of legal capacity as the alternative.  The Special Rapporteur on Torture says that forced psychiatric interventions may constitute torture or ill-treatment.  In this workshop, Tina Minkowitz, one of the drafters of the CRPD, will explain the new paradigm of legal capacity and the relevance of the international framework on torture, and will suggest ways that U.S. lawyers and advocates can bring the CRPD standards into domestic law. 


This workshop will first present and explain the relevant provisions of the CRPD, demonstrating that the CRPD prohibits guardianship, psychiatric detention and forced treatment.  Next will be an explanation of the new paradigm of support in the exercise of legal capacity, as an alternative to guardianship, mental health coercion and other substituted decision-making.  The workshop will give a brief overview of the standards articulated by the Special Rapporteur on Torture in relation to nonconsensual psychiatric interventions, and his mandate in relation to individual cases and systemic practices.  Finally this workshop will explore ways that lawyers and advocates can put the CRPD into practice at home and incorporate its standards into U.S. law, and the use of international mechanisms as part of an advocacy strategy. 

By the end of the workshop, participants should understand the new paradigm of legal capacity and support as articulated in the CRPD, and the standards for applying the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment to forced psychiatry, and should have the tools to use the CRPD provisions on legal capacity, liberty, free and informed consent and related issues in legal and political advocacy strategy in the U.S.