Mental Disability, the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, and the Sustainable Development Goals

Authored by: Peter Bartlett

The Routledge Handbook of International Development, Mental Health and Wellbeing

Print publication date:  June  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9780367027735
eBook ISBN: 9780429397844
Adobe ISBN:


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The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 1 arrive at an interesting time in disabilities law. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) 2 was passed by the General Assembly (GA) in December 2006, and came into effect less than two years later. Currently, it has been ratified by 172 jurisdictions. 3 The ethos of the CRPD has notable consistencies with the SDGs, sharing objectives relating to the attainment of substantive equality for all. The intersections are at their most visible in provisions relating to economic, social and cultural rights: both contain provisions promoting rights to health, 4 education, 5 gender equality, 6 employment, 7 access to justice, 8 and the development of inclusive societies. 9 Whilst their approaches are slightly different, both also promote notions of equitable distribution of resources and poverty reduction. 10 In terms of disability, it is pity that the SDGs did not draw out those synergies more explicitly; relatively few of the specific objectives within the broader SDGs refer to disability directly, and only one target—the aim to reduce premature mortality by one third 11 —makes any reference to mental disability specifically. Still, the introduction to the SDGs does make clear that human rights must be available without discrimination on the basis of disability, 12 and calls for the empowerment of people with disabilities. 13 Further and significantly, as part of the implementation process, data is to be collected relating to disabilities 14 so that discrepancies relevant to people with disabilities at least will be visible. Thus, there is much to link these two documents.

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