Published online by Cambridge University Press: 20 August 2021
Psychiatric coercion is prima facie discriminatory and unlawful under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), according to its Committee. However, significant disagreement about the Convention’s interpretation remains, even within the UN, and many argue that a complete coercion ban will exacerbate harm to persons with disabilities in certain circumstances. Thus, the called-for paradigm shift away from the current biomedical model remains unrealised. Rather than debating the correctness of the Committee’s position, this chapter proposes escape from the impasse towards the global abolition of psychiatric coercion through a practical process endorsed by the Committee. It must issue a general comment which gives tacit approval for the progressive realisation of rights under Articles 12 and 14 and provides a clear and reasonable deadline for total abolition – such as by 2030, which would align with the UN Sustainable Development Agenda. To meet that goal, states should be required to (i) introduce new policy and interim legislation significantly improving rights’ protection for those with psychosocial disabilities; (ii) set clear time-bound milestones towards introducing a complete ban on psychiatric coercion; and (iii) end lawful psychiatric coercion in accordance with the Committee’s deadline. The chapter also proposes and discusses four essential ingredients as foci for any new mental health laws.