Human Rights Work


Disability Convention

You may be interested in the work being done internationally to adopt a convention on the rights of people with disabilities.  I am participating in this work as a representative of World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry.

There is a lot of commonality between the abuses we face and the abuses that the disability rights movement addresses, particularly being degraded and treated as subhuman, being scrutinized for potential defects, and being treated as if we cannot speak for ourselves.  Institutionalization is also practiced against diverse people with disabilities, and justified as if there is no dignified alternative.

The process of working towards a convention will educate all of us, and give us a great opportunity to educate others.  For more information, please see the following:

The resolution of the ad hoc committee can be found as a pdf file at

Update on Disability Convention

The Convention was adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 13, 2006.  I had the honor of being one of two representatives to speak on behalf of the International Disability Caucus representing civil society, as part of the adoption ceremony.  The UN website has the complete text of the Convention and related information at  Please see especially Articles 12, 14, 17, 19 and 25, the principles in Article 3 and the general obligations in Article 4.  We won a decent text that guarantees legal capacity, liberty and informed consent to people with disabilities on an equal basis with others, with no exceptions.  This is revolutionary and gives us a basis to end forced psychiatry and the other ways we are treated as non-persons and subjected to "civil death".

On March 30, 2007 the Convention was opened for signature and ratification by governments (ratification makes it legally binding in that country; when 20 countries have ratified the Convention will enter into force as an international agreement).  82 countries signed and 1 country ratified the Convention on the opening day, the largest number of signatures on opening day for any UN treaty.  There is also an optional protocol to the Convention, creating a mechanism for individual complaints and investigation of serious human rights violations.  44 countries signed the optional protocol as well as the Convention on opening day.  For an updated status report of signatures and ratifications, see

The challenge now is to get states to ratify the Convention, without reservations, and to put it into practice.  Our work is in many ways harder, since it is not just words but reality.  There are many ways to get involved, please email me if you are interested.

ECT as Torture

An activist in the UK has made the argument that ECT under some circumstances fits the international definition of torture.  I supplied the legal background for this argument.  She has given me permission to use her writing anonymously.