Alternative Care & Human Rights

This series of pages will provide an outline of the different human rights documents related to alternative care and how practitioners can put them to use.

Two treaties are particularly useful in regards to alternative care: the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

Treaties work like this:

1. The UN General Assembly adopts a treaty, e.g., the Convention on the Rights of the Child. States who sign these treaties are required by law to fulfill the obligations contained in the treaty.

2. The treaty is monitored by the treaty body, e.g., the Committee on the Rights of the Child.

3. The treaty bodies write general comments (GCs) to explain their interpretations of the rights in the treaty. The general comments are not legally binding for states, but they’re excellent resources for specific, practical recommendations. They’re numbered by the order in which they were published, and each GC covers one topic, e.g., “General comment No. 9: The rights of children with disabilities.”

4. The states who sign onto the treaty submit states parties reports to the treaty bodies that explain how well the state is doing in upholding the obligations contained in the treaty. Each state submits their own report, and the report covers every article in the treaty.

5. Treaty bodies submit a list of issues (LOI) to the state prior to reviewing their state party report, because sometimes it takes the treaty body a few years to review the report and they need more recent statistics to make their recommendations. These documents are available online but are probably not very important for practitioners to review.

6. The treaty bodies write concluding observations in response to the states parties reports. These are similar to general comments in that they are non-binding but very practical recommendations from the treaty body; they’re different from general comments because they are specific to one country context.

General comments and concluding observations are particularly useful things to cite when trying to make an argument rooted in human rights. The other pages in this section provide specific information on what alternative care-related documents exist.

These pages were inspired by Angela Duger, who taught an amazing Human Rights-Based Approach to Development class!