"This year the Essex Autonomy Project will be joining forces with the Human Rights Centre at Essex to contribute to the Summer School on Human Rights Research Methods. Don’t be put off if you are not a researcher (!), as the EAP has planned a practical and discussion-based day around the challenges of applying the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, taught by the leading members of the Autonomy Project research team.
The day will cover:
An introduction to the CRPD, led by Wayne Martin
We will consider the difference between the Convention itself and its Optional Protocol, the standing and responsibilities of the convention’s treaty body, and some of the contested issues regarding the requirements of compliance. As a test case for examining the issues around compliance, we will introduce three pieces of UK legislation that are relevant to the challenge of achieving CRPD-compliance: The Mental Health Act of England and Wales (1983, rev 2007); The Mental Capacity Act of England and Wales (2005); the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act (2000).
Discrimination against persons with disabilities, led by Timo Jütten
One of the central aims of the CRPD is to end discrimination on the basis of disability. We examine the definition of “discrimination” within the convention, consider the distinction between direct and indirect discrimination, and survey the controversy over whether the convention sanctions any kind of defence against charges of discrimination. We then break into groups to consider whether two specific provisions of UK law stand in violation of the anti-discrimination provisions of the CRPD: the use of “mental disorder” as an element in the justification for detention under the Mental Health Act, and the use of the so-called “Diagnostic Threshold” in the definition of “mental incapacity” in the Mental Capacity Act.
Conflicts of Rights, led by Sabine Michalowski
The CRPD, like other international human rights instruments, calls for the respect and protection of a range of different rights, including the right to legal capacity, to equal standing before the law, to life, to the highest attainable standard of health care, to protection against neglect and abuse, etc. But what happens when two or more distinct rights come into conflict? How should the conflict be resolved? We contrast two approaches that have been taken to this challenge — one that has developed in the case history of the European Convention on Human Rights, and the other that is implicit in the recent General Comments of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Substituted decision-making under the Best-Interests paradigm, led by Wayne Martin
The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has claimed that compliance with the CRPD requires states parties to abolish substitute decision-making and the best-interest paradigm. What is the meaning of this claim? What is its basis in the Convention? And what is its legal authority? Are the Committee correct in this claim about the requirements on CRPD-compliance? What would be the consequences for UK mental health law? Does current UK law provide sufficient safeguards to ensure respect for the rights, will and preferences of disabled persons? If not, how might those safeguards best be strengthened?
The day is suitable for anyone with an interest in the UNCRPD and will introduce the Autonomy Project’s latest research on the issues surrounding this human rights convention. The fee for the day is £225 – if you book before the 30th April a 10% early booking discount is available.
To book your place please go to the Human Rights Centre website: https://www.essex.ac.uk/hrc/summerschool/
The Essex Autonomy Project