Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The Autonomy Project research team is a leading authority on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

Adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2006, the UNCRPD has become a major force in advancing the reform of law and practice all over the world.

The Autonomy Project contributes research support to government bodies on the challenges of achieving compliance with the UNCRPD, both in the UK and globally.

In 2014, members of the EAP team collaborated on a six-month research project in support of the UK Ministry of Justice review of whether the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) is compliant with the CRPD. The culmination of this research was the Achieving CRPD Compliance report, published in September 2014.

The main findings of this report were that, despite the UK bring a signatory to the CRPD, the MCA is not fully compliant with its requirements. The report showed that the MCA definition of ‘mental incapacity’ is discriminatory, and that the best interests decision-making framework on which it relies fails to comply with the requirements of the Convention. But it also showed that the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is incorrect in its claim that compliance with the Convention requires the abolition of substitute decision making and the best-interests decision-making framework.

In 2015 and 2016, members of the EAP team subsequently collaborated with experts at Edinburgh Napier University, TC Young Solicitors, 39 Essex Chambers and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, on a more extensive, sixteen-month research project assessing the CRPD compliance of capacity/adult incapacity legislation in the three UK jurisdictions of England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

This project produced a report, published in June 2016, assessing the progress being made across the three jurisdictions to achieve compliance, as well as series of briefing papers focusing on several aspects of CRPD compliance. In addition to providing technical research support to UK officials involved in the UN review of UK compliance with the UCRPD, and making recommendations in support of ongoing efforts across the UK to reform capacity legislation, the report also provides analysis that has been used by activists and policy-makers around the world who are involved in the reform of mental health and mental capacity legislation in accordance with the human rights requirements of the CRPD.

What is the CRPD? Why is it important for mental capacity legislation?

This lecture by Professor Wayne Martin provides an overview of the history of CRPD, a review of the relevant procedures and authorities and a survey of the controversies that have surrounded this interface between international law, domestic legislation and the concrete realities of delivering care to persons whose decision-making abilities may be impaired by disabilities.