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UN Programme on Disability   Working for full participation and equality

Draft Article 9

States Parties shall:

  • recognise persons with disabilities as individuals with rights before the law equal to all other persons;
  • accept that persons with disabilities have full legal capacity on an equal basis as others,32 including in financial matters;
  • ensure that where assistance is necessary to exercise that legal capacity:
    • the assistance is proportional to the degree of assistance required by the person concerned and tailored to their circumstances, and does not interfere with the legal capacity, rights and freedoms of the person;
    • relevant decisions are taken only in accordance with a procedure established by law and with the application of relevant legal safeguards;33
  • ensure that persons with disabilities who experience difficulty in asserting their rights, in understanding information, and in communicating, have access to assistance to understand information presented to them and to express their decisions, choices and preferences, as well as to enter into binding agreements or contracts, to sign documents, and act as witnesses; 34
  • take all appropriate and effective measures to ensure the equal right of persons with disabilities to own or inherit property, to control their own financial affairs, and to have equal access to bank loans, mortgage and other forms of financial credit;
  • ensure that persons with disabilities are not arbitrarily deprived of their property.


32: The intent of this paragraph is to acknowledge that children are not generally accepted as having full legal capacity and that neither would, therefore, children with disabilities. In terms of legal capacity, persons with disabilities should be treated without discrimination on the basis of disability.

33: Paragraph (c) allows for the provision of assistance to a disabled person to exercise their legal capacity, and is based on the assumption of full legal capacity, even if the person needs assistance in exercising that capacity. It is intended that subparagraph (c)(ii) apply only in exceptional circumstances, for which legal safeguards must be provided. The Ad Hoc Committee may wish to consider whether the paragraph is sufficiently clear, and also how best to protect persons with disabilities who cannot exercise their legal capacity. A separate paragraph may be required for this purpose. Some members of the Working Group proposed that where others are exercising legal capacity for a person with disabilities, those decisions should not interfere with the rights and freedoms of the person concerned.

34: The first part of paragraph (d) has more general application than the equal recognition of persons with disabilities as persons before the law and the Ad Hoc Committee may wish to consider its most appropriate placement in the Convention.

Relevant references:

International human rights conventions and legal instruments

Disability-specific instruments

Other documents

Summary of discussions at the Working Group

Comments on the draft text

Back to list of Draft Articles

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United Nations, 2003-04
Department of Economic and Social Affairs
Division for Social Policy and Development