Coercive interventions under the new Dutch mental health law: Towards a CRPD-compliant law?

Int J Law Psychiatry. May-Jun 2021;76:101685. doi: 10.1016/j.ijlp.2021.101685. Epub 2021 Mar 15.


The Netherlands became State Party to the United Nation Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2016, a treaty that holds great promise for promoting and protecting human rights of persons with mental disorders. Yet, the Dutch government also made explicit reservations to the Convention. On 1 January 2020, the Netherlands introduced a new mental health law, the Compulsory Mental Health Care Act (CMHCA), which aims to strengthen the legal status of persons with psychiatric illnesses. To which extent does the new Dutch mental health law comply with the regulations as outlined in the CRPD? In this article, we examine how coercive interventions, specifically the elements of competence, involuntary treatment and involuntary admission are regulated in the domestic legislation and compare them to the CRPD approach. A normative analysis combined with literature review helps to understand the law, reveal the gaps and uncover the barriers that remain. Is there a need to reassess the domestic legal provisions allowing for coercive treatment, and if so, what advancements are required? After all, should the CRPD be strictly adhered to at all times?

Keywords: CRPD; Capacity; Coercive interventions; Mental health legislation; Psychiatric coercion.

MeSH terms

  • Coercion
  • Disabled Persons*
  • Human Rights
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders* / therapy
  • Mental Health