International Forum on Legal Capacity

Inclusion International (II), OSI (Open Society Institute) jointly with the Fundación Saldarriaga Concha and with the cooperation of Asdown Colombia, Fundación PAIIS, Universidad de los Andes, and Handicap International, conducted an International Forum on “Legal Capability and Supported Decision-making”.
The event was conducted in Bogotá, Colombia on April 20-21. 2010.
Diane Richler , President of Inclusion International, Canada ; Raquel Jelinek President of Inclusión Interamericana, México ; Inés Elvira de Escallón, II advisor for the Americas, Canada; Wilfredo Guzmán Jara, Peru, Chairman, Disabled Peoples’ International (DPI) ; Ricardo Bucio Mujica  President of CONAPRED Consejo Nacional para Prevenir la Discriminación (National Council for Discrimination Prevention, Mexico; Natasha Velotti Panama ; Francisco Villafuerte Red CONFE Mexico ; Sandra Marinho APAES Brazil ; Facundo Chávez Penillas Vice-president of RIADIS – Red Latinoamericana de Organizaciones No Gubernamentales de Personas con Discapacidad y sus Familias (Latin American Network of NGOs of Disabled Persons and their Families), Argentina; Francisco Bariffi, Argentina ; Luis Bulit Goñi, ASDRA )Asociación Síndrome de Down (Argentina’s Down Syndrome Association), Argentina ; Irma Iglesias, Chile and Luis Fernando Astorga Instituto Interamericano sobre Discapacidad y Desarrollo Inclusivo (IIDI) (Inter-American Institute on Disablement and Inclusive Development),Costa Rica

In addition to the guests from different countries of the Americas and of the organizing entities, the event was attended by self-advocates Civil organizations’ families, representatives of different universities, NGO representatives, lawyers, and Colombian government officials that have worked in promoting the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The papers presented contributed issues for promoting a much-required discussion and analysis in the countries of the Americas to prepare a proposition to move from a tutoring and interdiction model to one of support; from discussions illustrating the situation of persons with intellectual disabilities and their families under the present legal framework, in regard to the acknowledgement of their legal capability.
Worthy of mention among the issues discussed, was the participation of self-advocates from  Colombia and Mexico, and of families that are members of civil organizations,  who, from their daily experience showed the challenges they face for their capability to be acknowledged, and the need to revise the law.
The presentations made by professionals were aimed at providing a global outlook of the topic of the meeting. Presentations dealt with: Analysis of the historical process and of the challenges faced in the course of negotiations at the UN on Article 12; Acknowledgement of the legal capacity and no discrimination rights to of persons with disabilities; Change of paradigm and the legal framework. The Mexican Experience: Promoting a culture of capacity from the family, the state, and the society; the legal capacity of persons with disabilities in accessing justice; Standard and legal developments regarding decision-making; Supported decision-making: a Canadian model; A perspective on comparative law in relation to the legal norms on the legal capability of persons with disabilities; The exercise of the legal capacity of persons with disabilities as an attainable political goal; A philosophical perception of ethics on support provided throughout the decision-making process; The  role of health professionals and the concept of disability on the basis of an ethical deontological decision-making model; How to accompany, while respecting autonomy in, decision-making.

The presentations of participants were aimed at looking for common pathways to eliminate barriers in matters such as:

  1. Interdiction and Legal Autonomy of Persons with Intellectual Disability
  2. Access to justice for persons with intellectual disability
  3. Families vis-à-vis the acknowledgement of persons with disabilities
  4. Incompatible practices of public vis-à-vis the Convention
  5. The person with a disability as employee vis-à-vis the demands of the world of labor and its supplementary (health, pension, and other) benefits.

The Forum represents and additional piece in the work of II in the Americas promoting the implementation of the Convention of Persons Disabilities, to guarantee, for all the persons with disabilities, the rights therein enshrined, in this case related with Article 12.
A varied and significant group of actors is thus constituted in the region to continue the dialogue and the analysis required to guarantee that the governments ratifying the Convention make the necessary reforms to guarantee the expectations of persons with disabilities expressed in said document.
There is an evident need to increase awareness of the Convention, to meet the challenge of strengthening the organizations of persons with disabilities and their members as one of the highest priorities in the region, and the need for a joint effort among legal experts and the organizations of persons with disabilities to find new ways to obtain support to guarantee that people with disabilities are acknowledged by law. An agenda to be developed.

Presentations will be available online in the near future.