A Message from the President of the Organizing Committee

Welcome to the 4th World Congress on Adult Guardianship 2016!

The right to being equally recognized before the law is a key requisite for a person to be able to exercise his/her rights and freedoms on an equal basis with others. However, on a global scale persons with a mental illness or a disability are often restricted in exercising their legal capacity or may even lose this capacity completely precisely because of their illness or disability.

How can persons with a mental illness or a disability live a self-determined life and act autonomously and independently in their affairs? How do human rights ensure this self-determination? What are the safeguards to protect these persons against exploitation and being determined by others? In what ways can the Law for the Protection of Adults but also the social system and the health system contribute to this? How must these be developed and reformed?

In Germany the “landmark reform of the century” introducing the Law of "Betreuung" (Dieter Schwab) provided first answers to these questions. It abolished incapacitation and adult guardianship as well as adult curatorship and replaced these with enduring power of attorney and “Betreuung” (court-appointed legal representation). Similar developments have also taken place in other countries, while in others there are plans or at least demands for reforms. Not least owing to the 2006 UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities this has generated a worldwide discussion. This discussion is particularly intense at the World Congresses on Adult Guardianship. The World Congresses encourage international exchange on the ideas, concepts, and practice of the protection of vulnerable adults. But above all they are aimed at showing the progress and developments in the field of Legal Protection of Adults and conceptualizing legal and social policy goals which replace incapacitation and guardianship with an orientation towards autonomy and care.

The principle of self-determination, and individual and person-centered support and care, and their continuous development are common concerns of the bi-annual German conferences on Betreuung ("Betreuungsgerichtstage") and the World Congresses on Adult Guardianship. We are therefore especially pleased that after Japan (2010), Australia (2012), and the USA (2014), this year the 4th World Congress will be held in Germany from September 14-17, 2016. It will take place under the auspices of the German Federal Minister of Justice and for Consumer Protection, Heiko Maas, and the German Federal Minister of Family, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, Manuela Schwesig, and is hosted by the German Betreuung Association in collaboration with the International Guardianship Network and with the support of an international advisory board. Please find the program and further information here or by clicking on the menu on the left.

You are cordially invited to the congress and we look forward to seeing you there!


Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Volker Lipp

Vice chairman of BGT e.V.
and President of the Organizing Committee