08 Jun 2020

Implementing supported decision-making for people with disabilities: New report shows developments in Europe and the role of NHRIs

ENNHRI and Mental Health Europe have published a new report on supported decision-making for people with disabilities. It highlights what supported decision-making entails in theory and in practice, as well as outlining developments in Europe and the role of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) in ensuring compliance with international standards.

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) came into force more than ten years ago and has been ratified by all EU Member States and the EU itself. Article 12 enshrines the universal recognition of legal capacity in all areas of life and the provision of the support and safeguards needed to exercise it. Accordingly, the Convention calls for systems of “supported decision-making” for persons with disabilities.

Legislative changes are planned or being discussed across Europe. While some progress has been made in many countries, most national legal frameworks still draw a fine line between supported decision-making and substitute decision-making. Some states  continue to deny legal capacity and allow substitute decision-making under certain circumstances.

NHRIs’ unique mandate gives them a crucial role in making supported decision-making a reality everywhere in Europe. This includes through:

  • Monitoring and reporting to national and international actors
  • Advising government and parliament
  • Investigating facilities and handling complaints
  • Making legal interventions and proceedings
  • Promoting the shift towards supported decision-making
  • Working alongside persons with disabilities and disabled persons’ organisations

The UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states in her foreword to this publication: “the report gives us an opportunity to understand how supported decision-making works in practice and is a tool that could support efforts to build the capacity of key stakeholders, including legislators and policymakers, NHRIs, civil society and organisations of persons with disabilities, on Article 12 of the CRPD”.

» Download the report

» Learn more about European NHRIs’ work on the rights of people with disabilities