On 3 December 2010, Argentina enacted the National Mental Health Law (NMHL), two years after ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). By allowing extrajudicial involuntary commitments for up to three days and legal capacity restrictions upon recommendation by an interdisciplinary team, the NMHL establishes thresholds for depriving persons with disabilities of their liberty and for restricting their exercise of legal capacity that are inconsistent with the CRPD. However, despite the NMHL’s significant shortcomings, it has the potential to contribute both to increased autonomy for users of the mental health system and also to less restrictive legal capacity restrictions. The authors conclude that while the NMHL is inconsistent with the CRPD, it may still help promote a shift away from involuntary commitments and legal capacity restrictions if its implementation results in the dissemination of “better” practices that have emerged thus far.

Keywords: Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Disability, Mental Health, Psychosocial Disability, Liberty, Legal Capacity, Argentina, Interdisciplinary Teams, Access to Justice