The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is a watershed in the human rights of users and survivors of psychiatry. This course is offered with an emphasis on how users and survivors of psychiatry can use the CRPD to advance our human rights.
The Convention of course guarantees the rights of all persons with disabilities, in all our diversity. Major constituencies organized at the international level included the World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry, World Federation of the Deaf, World Blind Union, World Federation of the Deafblind, Inclusion International (persons with intellectual disabilities and their families), International Federation of Hard of Hearing Persons, and Disabled Peoples’ International (cross-disability). We organized all disabled people’s organizations and allies into the International Disability Caucus, and aimed for the Convention to be equally relevant to all persons with disabilities irrespective of the type of disability or geographical location. Every constituency finds what it needs in the text, and the Convention can be approached from a number of different starting points to uncover its potential.
The course is taught by Tina Minkowitz, Esq., a human rights lawyer and survivor of psychiatry who was instrumental in developing the relevant provisions. She represented the World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry (WNUSP) in the drafting and negotiation of the CRPD, and subsequently founded the Center for the Human Rights of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry (CHRUSP).
The provisions in CRPD that advance the human rights of users and survivors of psychiatry are derived from the deep-rooted positions of our movement, expressed in papers such as the WNUSP Human Rights Position Paper and the 10th International Conference Principles. Nevertheless, awareness of the CRPD was slow to develop among users and survivors of psychiatry because the CRPD provisions are expressed in legal language, and because of the political struggle around their interpretation (and other factors, such as non-identification with disability community, and cynicism due to the history of superficial reforms that don’t change power relations).
The CRPD was adopted by the UN General Assembly ten years ago in December 2016, and there are now 172 states parties, the overwhelming majority of all UN member states. In that time, users and survivors of psychiatry in many countries have become involved in advocating for its provisions to be put into law and practice, and human rights NGOs and universities have conducted trainings in this area. But there has not been a survivor-run training, completely independent from non-survivor organizations or influence, until now.
This course was offered free of charge to everyone in its first and second years, 2017 and 2018. It will always be free of charge to survivors and to those who are not able to pay.
Reading materials will be posted on this website, along with instructions for assignments.
We are currently using the GoToMeeting platform for real-time lectures and discussions.
For each group of students, there will be a dedicated list-serve for discussions.
The course continues to evolve and may change format and organization over time. You are always welcome to consult the Course Content pages and study on your own.
We are currently not accepting more students until the spring of 2019. Please contact us in the fall of 2018 at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you are interested in joining for 2019, and to receive more information.
(c) Tina Minkowitz 2017-2018