MDAC Summer School starts today!

The summer university course “Mental Disability Law in Practice”, organised by the Mental Disability Advocacy Center, starts today at the Central European University in Budapest. The participants are practising lawyers, activists and academics in the field of mental health and disability rights law from Europe, Africa, the Americas and Australia.

This two-week applied legal practice course aims to strengthen the professional development of participants. With an emphasis on exploring rights in real life, the sessions expose participants to interdisciplinary approaches from law, psychology and political philosophy and clinical sciences.

The faculty members are all internationally recognised and outstanding scholars and activists in the field. Together, they have experience in human rights advocacy, teaching and programming in central and eastern Europe, Africa and North America and are sensitive to and knowledgeable about the specific needs and problems of these regions from where the participants will come. They include:


·            Peter Bartlett, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, Professor of Mental Health Law, University of Nottingham, UK

·            Ngila Bevan, Project Manager for UN Litigation and Advocacy, Mental Disability Advocacy Center, Budapest, Hungary

·            Jerome Bickenbach, Professor, Department of Health Sciences and Health Policy, University of Lucerne and SPF, Nottwil, Switzerland, Swiss Paraplegic Research (SPF), Nottwil, Switzerland

·            Gábor Gombos, Senior Advocacy Officer, Mental Disability Advocacy Center, Budapest, Hungary

·            Oliver Lewis, Executive Director, Mental Disability Advocacy Center, Budapest, Hungary

·            Lycette Nelson, Litigation Director, Mental Disability Advocacy Center, Budapest, Hungary

·            Éva Szeli, Adjunct Professor of Law, New York Law School, US

·            Gerard Quinn, Professor of Law and Director of the Centre for Disability Law and Policy, Faculty of Law, National University of Ireland, Galway, Republic of Ireland


The course focuses on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities - a human rights treaty which entered into force in 2008. Using the Convention and other international human rights instruments, the course will heighten participants' awareness of the legislative and policy implications of their lawyering, and will raise the awareness of the range of ways that participants can engage with reforms in their home jurisdictions. The course will advance participants' skills to effectively represent people with mental health disabilities in courtrooms and other settings and develop participants' understanding and knowledge of the issues in such a way as to facilitate further postgraduate study.

The course uses innovative teaching methods and encourages participants to reflect on law in practice, and how lawyers can impact upon policy-making at the domestic level to ensure the implementation of international human rights law. The methods include a site visit to a institution housing people with intellectual disabilities, interviews with people with psycho-social disabilities who live in the community. In the classroom, the methods include group preparations and presentations, practice of courtroom advocacy skills, tutor presentations and discussions. The course culminates with a moot court.

This event has been co-funded by a grant to MDAC from the Zennström Philantropies and the Disability Rights Initiative of the Open Society Foundations.

MDAC is searching for law firms to sponsor its summer school in 2012. To invest in a new generation of human rights lawyers, please contact MDAC by phone at +36 1  413 27 30 or via email at

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