Introduction and Overview

Michael L. Perlin

in International Human Rights and Mental Disability Law

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780195393231
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199914548 | DOI:

Series: American Psychology-Law Society Series

Introduction and Overview

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The issue of the human rights of people with disabilities had been ignored for decades by the international agencies vested with the protection of human rights on a global scale. A cluster of recent developments—political, legal, social, and cultural—have altered the contours of the “playing field” in a such a way as to, finally, help create an environment that is potentially hospitable to a movement that “extends” human rights to this population. But these rights are often ignored, and other times granted only on paper. These developments are extraordinarily recent. Like people with other disabilities, people with mental disabilities face degradation, stigmatization, and discrimination throughout the world today. But unlike people with other disabilities, many people with mental disabilities are routinely confined, against their will, in institutions, and deprived of their freedom, dignity, and basic human rights. This chapter presents a brief overview of the origins and history of mental disability law, tracing the origins of a civil-rights-protective, legal approach to this “health” issue, and considers the “missing link” between international human rights law and mental disability law, focusing on the reluctance of mainstream human rights groups to take on the rights of persons with mental disabilities (especially those institutionalized) as a human rights issue. It contextualizes this by looking at the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) as a “beacon for an international consensus on justice and disability.”

Keywords: international human rights law; sanism; mental disability law; United Nations; NGOs

Chapter.  8147 words. 

Subjects: Criminal and Forensic Psychology

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