Anna Nilsson

Postdoctoral Fellow

Research areas and keywords

UKÄ subject classification

  • Law


  • Disability, Mental health, Discrimination, Human Rights Law, Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities , Proportionality, Robert Alexy


I am a PhD student in international human rights law. My research focuses on mental health law, disability-discrimination and balancing of rights and interests. In my PhD-project, I explore how the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities’ demand from equality within the mental health care affects the permissibility of compulsory mental health interventions. Taking a treaty interpretation approach I analyse the normative content of the legal prerequisites that make up the prohibition of discrimination, and apply them to the mental health context. Focusing on two features commonly found in national mental health regimes – i.e. civil detention and compulsory clinical treatment – I discuss what this means for States Parties that are justifying their use of compulsory mental health interventions with arguments about diminished decision-making capacities and increased risks of self-harm/ violence against others.

My study offers a framework for assessing the lawfulness of compulsory mental health interventions at the national level. The framework builds on Robert Alexy’s model for proportionality assessments, with appropriate adjustments to fit the non-discrimination context. It specifies the criteria to be met, and the rules that governs the final decision, and thereby enables judicial review of national mental health laws, as well as scrutiny of compulsory interventions in individual cases. Though it is developed and discussed in relation to compulsory mental health interventions, the framework has a formal structure and high level of abstraction. It may hence be applied in discrimination analysis outside the mental health field.


I teach international human rights law, equality and antidiscrimination law (Swedish and international), disability law, national human rights structures, and law and gender. Most of my teaching is located at the Faculty of Law, University of Lund, but I have also been teaching in multidisciplinary settings (Department for Gender Studies and Department of History). 


I cooperate with the Raoul Wallenberg Institute to support the development of capacity with academic institutions and independent human rights centers worldwide to plan, implement and deliver human rights education and training and contribute to the institutionalization of such programs. My lectures have covered human rights law in general, and issues of non-discrimination, disability, and national human rights institutions in particular. I have mainly engaged with participants from Belarus, Turkey and Cambodia.

Recent research outputs

Anna Nilsson, 2017, Lund: Lund University (Media-Tryck). 230 p.

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)

Anna Nilsson & Ulf Linderfalk (ed.), 2012, Folkrätten i ett nötskal, 2 uppl. Lund: Studentlitteratur AB, p. 167-188

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter

View All (5)