This article considers spiritual rights in relation to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). It notes that unlike in other legally binding UN treaties spiritual rights is not a term covered in this convention. The purpose of the article is to explore how that exclusion happened, what it means, what lies behind it and also to suggest one way of considering how the convention might have been enriched by explicitly including spiritual rights. Firstly, the article discusses the use of the term spiritual rights. It goes on to analyse how spiritual rights are recognized in some UN treaties and not others. The article then examines the travaux préparatoires of the convention and studies how spiritual rights were excluded after an extended period of debate between delegates. The article challenges the view of some delegates that if spiritual rights is included in other conventions that should be sufficient. It uses the Christian doctrine of incarnation to explore what might be distinctive about spiritual rights for people with disabilities. Boros and Vanier’s interpretations of the doctrine are briefly considered before a fuller exploration of the “Disabled God” incarnationalism of the theologian Nancy Eiesland, who was in fact involved in the drafting of UNCRPD. The idea of the Disabled God is also shown to be meaningful outside of a Christian context with an example from Shintoism. The article concludes that whilst spiritual rights is certainly a contested term, its omission from the UNCRPD is to be lamented.

Author(s): Russell Whiting, Sándor Gurbai

Journal: Canadian Journal of Disability Studies

Date: 2015

Volume: 4

Issue: 3

Pages: 103-126

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15353/cjds.v4i3.233


Disabilities: General

Categories: All Categories, Clergy/Theology