In the past two decades, therapeutic jurisprudence (TJ) has become one of the most important theoretical approaches to the law. But, there has, as of yet, been puzzlingly little written about the relationship between TJ and international human rights law. To be sure, there has been some preliminary and exploratory work on the relationship between TJ and international law in general, but virtually nothing on its relationship to international human rights law in a mental disability law context. This paper seeks to focus on this lack of consideration, to speculate as to why that might be, and to offer some suggestions as to how to infuse some new vitality and vigor into this important area of law and social policy.
In this article, first, I offer a brief explanation of TJ. Next, I discuss, also briefly, the impact (and the potential future greater impact) of the recently-ratified United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on this area. Then, I consider the sparse commentary currently available on the intersection between TJ and international law in general, and will speculate as to why this is so sparse. Then, I offer some thoughts as to the TJ/international human rights law connection, looking specifically at three questions that require far more attention from this perspective (access to counsel, the use of state-sanctioned psychiatry as a tool of political oppression, and the potential redemptive power of the CRPD), and describe a research agenda that scholars might turn to in furtherance of the investigation of the relationships between therapeutic jurisprudence, international human rights law and mental disability law. I conclude by calling on scholars, activists, advocates and practitioners to begin to take this connection seriously in their future work.