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Areas of Work

What does CHRUSP do?

Download CHRUSP aims

CHRUSP was originally envisioned to pursue five aims linked to its overall goal of realizing the abolition of forced psychiatry everywhere, with full respect for legal capacity and the interdependence of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. These aims remain relevant and guide our current work.

1.Shaping consensus around an interpretation of the CRPD to uphold full legal capacity and the abolition of forced psychiatric interventions/detention. Such an interpretation is fully justified by the text of the treaty understood in its entirety and in light of its object and purpose, including its governing principles.

This aim has been largely fulfilled as a result of General Comment No. 1 and the Guidelines on Article 14, authoritative interpretive materials of the CRPD Committee. As interpretation continues to be refined to develop nuances and fill gaps, the aim remains relevant.

2.Law reform initiatives to repeal involuntary commitment/treatment and guardianship laws and to ensure universal legal capacity.

This aim has been pursued indirectly through advising and commenting on reforms made known by colleagues, and promoting those that have value from an abolitionist perspective.

Formulation of positions regarding the value of legislation to address comprehensive policy reform and positive entitlements related to support has begun and needs to be promoted. Meanwhile, advice and comment continues to be necessary as additional DPOs and states pursue reform.

3.Monitoring and enforcement of CRPD norms through human rights mechanisms and courts.

This aim has been pursued both directly and indirectly. CHRUSP has had most success indirectly: advising colleagues on shadow reporting, promoting the use of human rights mechanisms and providing information about how to use them, submitting amicus briefs to national or regional courts.

CHRUSP could do more in this area if personnel with relevant skills could develop the capability to pursue justice on behalf of individuals as well as strategic litigation, through international human rights mechanisms and regional courts.

4.Education and awareness-raising.

This aim has been pursued through numerous means that change over time. Initially CHRUSP co-operated closely with WNUSP to support the advocacy of a global network and the development of diverse leadership. Later, CHRUSP initiated the Absolute Prohibition Campaign to involve diverse people whose rights are impacted as well as allies in defending the CRPD standard of abolition, and created a network that functions by email to keep one another informed, hold discussions, and at times collaborate in advocacy.

The CHRUSP website is, and has been from the beginning, a site that activists use regularly as an information resource. CHRUSP is planning to revise the website while keeping the storehouse of information that our supporters value.

CHRUSP has also conducted a CRPD course; this ran three times live and now is available as self-study on a dedicated website. CHRUSP has also periodically offered webinars on topics of interest.

5.Extending the analysis in CRPD to related areas.

The first application was to the rights of prisoners, which now has become a core theme linked to both legal capacity and the abolition of forced psychiatry – rejecting the insanity defense and grappling with the injustice of the penal system on its own terms, promotion of restorative justice, and non-discrimination including all necessary accommodations for people with disabilities facing trial and imprisonment.

The second was to the rights of older persons, ensuring that the CRPD norms on legal capacity and right to live independently in the community are upheld.

Third has been the question of mental health policy vs the conceptualization of positive entitlements to support outside of mental health discourse and practices. This work links with police and prison issues as well, and benefits from current advocacy for prison abolition and for community alternatives to policing. It is an uphill battle to counter professionalized mental health in its role of service provider and policymaker that prevents full accountability for its human rights violations and leaves us vulnerable to those violations reappearing even if legal abolition is achieved.

CHRUSP expertise

CHRUSP makes its expertise available to support the work of other organizations whose goals are compatible with the CHRUSP mission, and to inform human rights mechanisms and states charged with the duties of implementation and monitoring of the CRPD.  These services can include:

  • Supplying information and analysis applying CRPD and other human rights norms
  • Providing speakers and conducting workshops
  • Assisting organizations to develop advocacy materials and strategies

Depending on the nature of the engagement, fees may be requested. If funding is needed to carry out these activities, CHRUSP will work with the organization requesting its services to apply for grants or conduct fundraising activities.