In its resolution 1997/19, entitled "Equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities," the Economic and Social Council "urges the Secretary-General and Governments to further the effective implementation of the Standard Rules and to emphasize the dimension of human rights, including the dimension of persons of persons with developmental and psychiatric disabilities."
In July 2000, the Economic and Social Council adopted two resolutions asking that actions taken to further the equalization of opportunities of, by and with disabilities, also address the situation of persons developmental and psychiatric disabilities. In its resolutions 2000/10 and 2002/26, entitled "Further promotion of equalization of opportunities by, for and with persons with disabilities," Economic and Social Council "urges governments, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations to take practical action to create greater awareness and support further initiatives…with special emphasis accorded to…the human rights of persons with disabilities… and the situation of persons with developmental and psychiatric disabilities" among others, "with a focus on integrating such persons into society." Economic and Social Council resolution 2000/268, entitled "Human rights of persons with disabilities," which urges "Governments to implement, with the cooperation and assistance of relevant organizations, the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, having particular regard for the needs of women, children and persons with developmental and psychiatric disabilities in order to guarantee their human dignity and integrity."
In 2001, General Assembly, in its resolution 56/115, "Urges Governments, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations to provide special protection to …persons with developmental and psychiatric disabilities, with special emphasis on integrating them into society and protecting and promoting their human rights."
A number of United Nations decisions are relevant to persons with developmental and psychiatric disabilities. For reference, below is a brief chronological overview of selected decisions specifically related to disability and the way they address the concerns and rights of persons with Developmental and Psychiatric disabilities.
Reference to persons with Developmental and Psychiatric disabilities in decisions on disability adopted by the General Assembly
In 1971, the General Assembly of the United Nations, in its resolution 2856 (XXVI), proclaimed the "Declaration on the Rights of Mentally Retarded Persons." Bearing in mind the necessity of assisting persons with mental disabilities to develop their full abilities and of promoting their integration, the General Assembly calls for national and international action to ensure that the Declaration is used as a common basis and frame of reference for the protection of their rights.
The Declaration establishes that 'mentally retarded persons' have the same rights as other human beings. Specifically, they have the right to:
Proper medical care, physical therapy, education, training, rehabilitation and guidance to develop their ability and maximum potential;
Economic security and decent standards of living; to perform productive work and engage on any meaningful occupation;
To live with their own families or foster care, and to participate in community life;
A qualified guardian when required to protect their personal well-being and interest;
Protection from exploitation, abuse, degrading treatment, to due process of law.
The Declaration on the "Rights of Disabled Persons," proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 3447 (XXX) of 9 December 1975, reiterates the commitments and principles established in earlier United Nations instruments, and reaffirms the rights of persons with disabilities, set forth in the Declaration, without discrimination on any basis.
It also reiterates the necessity of preventing physical and mental disabilities and of assisting persons with disabilities "to develop their abilities in the most varied fields of activities and of promoting their integration as far as possible in normal life."
It states: "Disabled persons have the inherent right to respect for their human dignity. Disabled persons, whatever the origin, nature and seriousness of their handicaps and disabilities, have the same fundamental rights as their fellow-citizens of the same age, which implies first and foremost the right to enjoy a decent life, as normal and full as possible," to include, civil and political rights. The Declaration also notes, among other things, that: "paragraph 7 of the Declaration on the Rights of Mentally Retarded Persons applies to any possible limitation or suppression of those rights for mentally disabled persons."
The World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons, adopted by General Assembly resolution 37/52, in 1982, at the end of the International Year of Disabled Persons, also reiterates the equality of rights of all human beings.
The World Programme of Action, points out that persons with disabilities "do not form a homogeneous group" including the "mentally ill" and the "mentally retarded," stressing that "all encounter different barriers, of different kinds, which have to be overcome in different ways." The World Programme of Actions calls for "measures aimed at preventing the onset of mental, physical and sensory impairments (primary prevention) or at preventing impairment, when it has occurred, from having negative physical, psychological and social consequences." It also calls for rehabilitation, defined as "a goal-oriented and time-limited process aimed at enabling an impaired person to reach an optimum mental, physical and/or social functional level, thus providing her or him with the tools to change her or his own life."
The World Programme of Action was a ground breaking international instrument with implications on physical, sensorial, and mental disabilities. This documents, sees disability within the context of societal barriers, and introduces the concepts equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities and their right to full and effective participation. The World Programme of Action is a comprehensive global strategy that utilizes "equalization of opportunities" as its guiding principle for the achievement of full participation of persons with disabilities, on the basis of equality, in all aspects of social and economic life and development. It moves from the strictly medical perspective, and adds to the "social welfare" perspective the integration the human rights dimension of persons with disabilities in all aspects of development.
The World Programme of Action notes that: "Societies sometimes cater only to people who are in full possession of all their physical and mental faculties," adding that "[T]hey have to recognize the fact that, despite preventive efforts, there will always be a number of people with impairments and disabilities, and that societies have to identify and remove obstacles to their full participation." To this end, "whenever pedagogically possible, education should take place in the ordinary school system, work be provided through open employment and housing be made available as to the population in general." The Programme of Action also states that: "It is the duty of every Government to ensure that the benefits of development programmes also reach disabled citizens. Measures to this effect should be incorporated into the general planning process and the administrative structure of every society. Extra services which disabled persons might need should, as far as possible, be part of the general services of a country."
The Programme has special provisions for persons with mental and psychiatric disabilities. "Health and social services for mentally ill persons have been particularly neglected in many countries. The psychiatric care of persons with mental illness should be supplemented by the provision of social support and guidance to these persons and their families, who are often under particular strain. Where such services are available, the length of stay and the probability of renewed referral to institutions are lessened. In cases where mentally retarded persons are additionally afflicted with problems of mental illness, provisions are necessary to ensure that health care personnel are aware of the distinct needs related to retardation."
Their rights to participation in all aspects of life are addressed, noting that: "The needs of mentally handicapped people for personal and social relationships, including sexual partnership, are now increasingly recognized." The World Programme of Action, also states that: "The disabled themselves should have a substantive influence in deciding the effectiveness of policies, programmes and services designed for their benefit. Special efforts should be made to involve mentally handicapped persons in this process." It adds that: "When people such as the severely mentally disabled may not be able to represent themselves adequately in decisions affecting their lives, family members or legally designated agents should take part in planning and decision-making."
The World Programme of Action, also acknowledges the role of organizations of persons with disabilities: "Mentally handicapped people are now beginning to demand a voice of their own and insisting on their right to take part in decision-making and discussion. Even those with limited communication skills have shown themselves able to express their point of view. In this respect, they have much to learn from the self-advocacy movement of persons with other disabilities. This development should be encouraged."
1991: Principles for the protection of persons with mental illness and the improvement of mental health care
After various years of deliberations on the rights of persons admitted to or detained in mental health institutions, in December of 1991, the General Assembly adopted the "Principles for the protection of persons with mental illness and the improvement of mental health care." Operative paragraph 3 of General Assembly resolution, 46/119 of 17 December 1991, requests the Secretary-General to give the Principles the widest possible dissemination.
Thought mental illness is not always a disability, Principles has some relevance within the broader discussion of the about the rights of persons with Developmental and Psychiatric disabilities. The twenty-five Principles address the: fundamental freedoms and basic rights; protection of minors; life in the community; determination of mental illness; medical examination; confidentiality; role of community and culture; standards of care; treatment; medication; consent to treatment; notice of rights; rights and conditions in mental health facilities; resources for mental health facilities; admission principles; involuntary admission; review body, procedural safeguards; access to information; criminal offenders; complaints; monitoring and remedies; implementation; scope of principles relating to mental health facilities; and saving of existing rights.
"These principles should be applied without any discrimination of any kind" to "all persons who are admitted to a mental health facility." Principle 23 on implementation states that: "States should implement these Principles through appropriate legislative, judicial, administrative, educational and other measures, which they shall review periodically" and "should make these Principles widely known."
1993: United Nations Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities
The Standard Rules for the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, was adopted at the end of the Decade of Disabled Persons (1982 - 1993) by General Assembly resolution 48/96, annex, of 20 December 1993. As a policy guidance instrument, the Standard Rules reiterates the goals of prevention, rehabilitation and equalization of opportunities established in the World Programme of Action. The 22 Rules provide guidelines for national action in three main clusters: preconditions for equal participation, targets for equal participation, and implementation measures.
 Economic and Social Council resolutions 1997/19, of 21 July 1997, operative paragraph 4.
 Economic and Social Council resolution 2000/10, of 27 July 2000, operative paragraph 4.
 Economic and Social Council resolution 2000/268 of 28 July 2000, operative paragraph 13.
 Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons, preambler paragraphs.
 Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons, operative paragraph 2.
 Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons, preambler paragraphs.
 Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons, operative paragraph 3.
 Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons, operative paragraph 4.
 World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons, paragraph 8.
 World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons, paragraph 10.
 World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons, paragraph 11.
 World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons, paragraph 22.
 World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons, paragraph 107.
 World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons, paragraph 74.
 World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons, paragraph 85.
 World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons, paragraph 19.
 World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons, paragraph 29.