Create awareness that persons with disabilities enjoy legal capacity on an equal basis with others.

Construction of Legal Capacity

Legal capacity consists of two integral components: the capacity to hold a right and the capacity to act and exercise the right, including legal capacity to sue, based on such rights. Both these elements are integral to the concept of legal capacity hence recognition to the legal capacity of any group or individual mandates recognition of both these elements. It has been found that denial of legal capacity to any individual or group has also meant negation of both the right to personhood and the capacity to act. On the study of municipal legislations, it has also been found that whenever such discriminatory laws have been challenged, they have been at first replaced by legislations which accord symbolic recognition to the rights of the excluded group, thus whilst the capacity to hold rights is recognized, the capacity to exercise those rights continues to be denied.

In comparison international human rights law, which has often been adopted to counter discriminatory municipal legislations, constructs legal capacity to include both the elements of identity and agency. Article 15 of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination of Women is a case in point.

Article 1 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states that the purpose of the Convention is “to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities ……” This purpose has to be furthered by all the provisions of the CRPD including the article on legal capacity. And the text of article 12 would need to be read informed by this objective.


- Handbook for Parliamentarians on the UN Enable web site at

- Training Manual on the Human Rights of Persons with Disabilities on the AIFO
web site at

- The Ratification Toolkit on the DPI web site at

New Zealand Human Right
Commission web site at

- MindFreedom International


1. Reservations and/or interpretative statements violate the CRPD ( Refer Article 46 of the CRPD, Article 14, paragraph 1 of the Optional Protocol).

2. Equality and non discrimination, respect for dignity, individual autonomy and freedom to make one’s own choices.

3. Address the situation of persons with disabilities who are also subject to racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.


to comment