Follow us
Donate
Login
Become a member

Withdraw Oviedo

Opposing the draft Additional Protocol to the Oviedo Convention at the Council of Europe

 

Background

 

Under the Council of Europe, the Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine, better known as the Oviedo Convention, is the only international legally binding instrument for protecting human rights in the biomedical field.

 

It establishes that human rights must come before other considerations in the field of biomedicine. It lays down a series of principles and prohibitions concerning bioethics, medical research, consent, rights to private life and information, organ transplantation, public debate, etc.

 

In 2014, the Committee of Bioethics of the Council of Europe started to work on a “draft additional protocol concerning the protection of human rights and dignity of persons with mental disorder with regard to involuntary placement and involuntary treatment”.

 

 

Opposition against the draft Additional Protocol

 

Since the beginning of this work, Mental Health Europe and other organisations have advocated against its development. These include the European Disability Forum (EDF), the European Network of (Ex-) Users and Survivors of Psychiatry (ENUSP), Human Rights Watch, the European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD), Inclusion Europe and Autism Europe.  Over the past years, we have been joined by many other stakeholders such as the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the Commissioner of Human Rights of the Council of Europe.

 

We oppose this draft additional protocol because it is against international human rights law and risks to increase human rights violations in psychiatry. In particular:

  • Involuntary treatment and placement in psychiatry are prohibited under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). It breaches, among others, the rights of non-discrimination, legal capacity, liberty and security, and health. The CRPD is ratified by 46 of 47 Member States of the Council of Europe.
  • The adoption will create a legal conflict between the obligations of States under the regional level (Council of Europe) and the international level (CRPD). Two different standards will apply in European States that ratified the CRPD.
  • It risks solidifying the institutionalisation of persons with disabilities. At the same time, the practice is condemned by the CRPD, the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Countries that have adopted similar legislation on involuntary treatment and placement than is enshrined in the draft additional protocol have seen an increase of coercion in psychiatry.

 

It goes against the paradigm shift and growing consensus against coercion that is emerging within the United Nations and the medical community.

 

 

2021 & 2022 – A decisive time to advocate against the Draft Additional Protocol

 

Despite the opposition, member states of the Council of Europe have continued to support the work on this draft protocol, ignoring their obligations under international law. A final draft has been approved and will be put for a vote in June 2021 within the Committee of Bioethics, for final adoption at the end of 2021 or early 2022. Thus, EDF and MHE, together with numerous stakeholders are strengthening efforts to oppose the draft and request the withdrawal of the protocol.

 

On 25 March 2021, MHE and EDF are launching an advocacy toolkit against the draft additional protocol to the Oviedo Convention. The toolkit aims to inform various stakeholders about an initiative of the Council of Europe aiming to regulate the involuntary placement and treatment of persons with mental health problems in psychiatric institutions. It offers tools to advocate against such initiative that, if adopted, would allow for human rights violations all over Europe. Speakers include representatives from the European Disability Forum, Mental Health Europe, the European Network of (Ex)-Users and Survivors of Psychiatry, Human Rights Watch, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and more!

Further Resources

Additional information

Related Content

News and policy documents

September 27

State of the Union address 2021: make mental health a priority

Mental Health Europe (MHE) released a reaction to the State of the Union speech, calling on the European Commission to take comprehensive actions to reaffirm its commitment to mental health and disability.

READ MORE
September 20

MHE welcomes decision of the European Court of Human Rights on the Oviedo Convention and urges States to #WithdrawOviedo

Read MHE's reaction to the decision of the European Court of Human Rights to the Oviedo Convention related to the forced treatment of persons with psychosocial disabilities.

READ MORE
July 5

MHE and EDF call on Council of Europe to withdraw Oviedo

Mental Health Europe, together with the European Disability Forum and other stakeholders, call on the Council of Europe, and its Committee of Bioethics, to halt working on legislation that would allow any forms of involuntary treatment and placement in psychiatry. 

READ MORE
May 3

Listen to those with mental ill-health; end coercion in mental healthcare

Read about Belle de Jong's experiences at Mount Carmel Hospital and why we need to end coercion in mental healthcare.

READ MORE
March 25

MHE and EDF publish #WithdrawOviedo advocacy toolkit

Mental Health Europe and European Disability Forum released an advocacy toolkit against the draft additional protocol to the Oviedo Convention. 

READ MORE
March 11

Webinar | #WithdrawOviedo: Online launch of advocacy toolkit | 25 March 2021

Mental Health Europe is delighted to invite you to a webinar for the launch of an advocacy toolkit against the draft additional protocol to the Oviedo Convention on 25 March 2021.

READ MORE
September 14

MHE’s reaction to the call for good practices on voluntary care by the DH Bioethics Committee of the Council of Europe

Collection of practices is promising, but to move towards full compliance with human rights DH-BIO needs to drop the draft Additional Protocol to the Oviedo Convention.

READ MORE
June 26

MHE’s reaction to the Council of Europe’s resolution on ending coercion in mental health

On 26 June 2019, the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly adopted resolution and recommendations on ending coercion in mental health. Mental Health Europe welcomes the adoption of this resolution.

READ MORE
October 16

#WithdrawOviedo

Summary of contributions to the UN Consultation on Human Rights and mental health.

READ MORE
September 25

CRPD Committee calls on States Parties to oppose the draft Additional Protocol to the Oviedo Convention

The Committee considers the draft Additional Protocol to be in violation of several articles of the CRPD.

READ MORE
September 4

Oviedo Convention: Bulgaria joins host of organisations objecting to Additional Protocol

Now that Bulgaria has objected to the draft, joining Portugal in expressing opposition, MHE and other campaigners believe more states could follow suit.

READ MORE
May 15

Drop the draft: MHE speaks out against Additional Protocol to the Oviedo Convention

Despite strong opposition, the Council of Europe continues negotiations on the draft Additional Protocol to the Oviedo Convention.

READ MORE
June 6

Statement of ENUSP and Mental Health Europe on Additional Protocol

Statement of ENUSP and Mental Health Europe on Additional Protocol

READ MORE
November 5

Response to the public consultation on the working document of the Oviedo Convention

Response to the public consultation

READ MORE