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History of the World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry PDF Print E-mail

Important milestones of the World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry include amongst others:

Mary O’Hagan dated the first idea of a world wide network of users and survivors of psychiatry back to Mexico in 1991, where a group of survivors gathered at the WFMH conference and formed the World Federation of Psychiatric Users (WFPU).

The name was changed to World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry : WNUSP in 1997.

In the meeting in Santiago, Chili in 1999, the group applied  to IDF – International Disability Foundation –for funding to establish the WNUSP formally – i.e. formulate statutes, aims, action plan, create a secretariat and plan the initial congress. The Interim Committee was elected– and in 2000 the WNUSP secretariat was established in Odense, Denmark.


In 2001, the Initial Congress of WNUSP took place in Vancouver, Canada, and the World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry was established formally. The core values and principles of WNUSP were formulated and formally adopted in the WNUSP Human Rights Position Paper. Also, the WNUSP Board was elected with Judy Chamberlin as the chair, and several WNUSP resolutions were adopted, such as against Electroshock, on Mad Pride, against Forced Treatments.

Also see: Minutes of the Initial WNUSP Congress in Vancouver, Canada 2001

Between 2002 and 2004, several WNUSP members, participated in the UN Ad Hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities. Tina Minkowitz played a key role, together with Maths Jesperson, Gabor Gombos, Karl Bach Jensen, Janet Amegatcher, Daniel Iga, Myra Kovary, Chris Hansen and John McCarthy.

The Final Report of the UN Ad Hoc Committee contained a draft resolution in the form of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was later adopted at the United Nations General Assembly at 13 December 2006.

In 2004, the second General Assembly of WNUSP took place in Vejle, Denmark. Funding was a crucial issue during this phase. Karl Bach Jensen, the treasurer of WNUSP managed to find the possibilities to organize the second GA of WNUSP, with thanks to the generosity the Danish member of WNUSP, LAP Denmark, willing to dedicate time and resources to host the WNUSP-secretariat on a voluntary basis. LAP managed to receive funding from the Danish government to plan and host WNUSPs second General Assembly, with 150 participants from 50 countries.

Also see: Minutes of the 2nd WNUSP GA in Vejle, Denmark 2004

In 2007, WNUSP was represented in an expert seminar on freedom from torture and ill treatment and persons with disabilities  organized by the UN OHCHR in collaboration with Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak, and the Committee against Torture. This seminar served to identify forms of torture and ill treatment mostly affecting persons with disabilities, which led to an Interim report A/63/175 by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak, which included strong references to practices of forced psychiatry as torture under the UN framework.

In 2007 WNUSP was accredited with the United Nations ECOSOC Consultancy Status for Civil Society Organizations in the UN DESA system, and WNUSP is since then regularly present at high level meetings, advocating for the human rights of persons with psychosocial disabilities.

In 2009, the third General Assembly of WNUSP took place in Kampala, Uganda, organized with support from Mental Health Uganda, The Tides Foundation and the Open Society Institute (OSI). Three co-chairs were elected: Tina Minkowitz, Moosa Salie and Gabor Gombos.

Also see:  Report of the 3rd WNUSP GA in Kampala, Uganda 2009

In 2010, at the Conference of States Parties to the CRPD in New York, two WNUSP members, Gabor Gombos from Hungary and Edah Maina from Kenya, were elected onto the UN CRPD Committee.

In 2013, the Capacity Building Project called “Strengthen Our Voices” took place in Cape Town, South Africa, with Annie Robb from Ubuntu Centre, WNUSP member in South Africa, as a main organizer.  In 2013, Jolijn Santegoeds and Salam Gomez became co-chairs of WNUSP.

Also see: Full Report  of Capacity Building Project – Strengthen our Voices in Cape Town, South Africa 2013