Proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 2856 (XXVI) of 20 December 1971
The General Assembly ,
Mindful of the pledge of the States Members of the United Nations under the Charter to take joint and
separate action in co-operation with the Organization to promote higher standards of living, full
employment and conditions of economic and social progress and development,
Reaffirming faith in human rights and fundamental freedoms and in the principles of peace, of the
dignity and worth of the human person and of social justice proclaimed in the Charter,
Recalling the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenants on
Human Rights, the Declaration of the Rights of the Child and the standards already set for social
progress in the constitutions, conventions, recommendations and resolutions of the International
Labour Organisation, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the World
Health Organization, the United Nations Children's Fund and other organizations concerned,
Emphasizing that the Declaration on Social Progress and Development has proclaimed the necessity of
protecting the rights and assuring the welfare and rehabilitation of the physically and mentally
Bearing in mind the necessity of assisting mentally retarded persons to develop their abilities in
various fields of activities and of promoting their integration as far as possible in normal life,
Aware that certain countries, at their present stage of development, can devote only limited efforts to
this end,
Proclaims this Declaration on the Rights of Mentally Retarded Persons and calls for national and
international action to en sure that it will be used as a common basis and frame of reference for the
protection of these rights:
1. The mentally retarded person has, to the maximum degree of feasibility, the same rights as other
human beings.
2. The mentally retarded person has a right to proper medical care and physical therapy and to such
education, training, rehabilitation and guidance as will enable him to develop his ability and maximum
3. The mentally retarded person has a right to economic security and to a decent standard of living. He
has a right to perform productive work or to engage in any other meaningful occupation to the fullest
possible extent of his capabilities.
4. Whenever possible, the mentally retarded person should live with his own family or with foster
parents and participate in different forms of community life. The family with which he lives should
receive assistance. If care in an institution becomes necessary, it should be provided in surroundings
and other circumstances as close as possible to those of normal life.
5. The mentally retarded person has a right to a qualified guardian when this is required to protect his
personal well-being and interests.
6. The mentally retarded person has a right to protection from exploitation, abuse and degrading
treatment. If prosecuted for any offence, he shall have a right to due process of law with full
recognition being given to his degree of mental responsibility.
7. Whenever mentally retarded persons are unable, because of the severity of their handicap, to
exercise all their rights in a meaningful way or it should become necessary to restrict or deny some or
all of these rights, the procedure used for that restriction or denial of rights must contain proper legal
safeguards against every form of abuse. This procedure must be based on an evaluation of the social
capability of the mentally retarded person by qualified experts and must be subject to periodic review
and to the right of appeal to higher authorities.