Armed Conflict & Disability

There is a clear relationship between emergency, rehabilitation and development. In order to ensure a smooth transition from relief to rehabilitation and development, emergency assistance should be provided in ways that will be supportive of recovery and long-term development. Thus, emergency measures should be seen as a step towards long-term development.
UN Resolution 46/182, December 1991


Unlike the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, there is no provision in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities under which countries may derogate from their obligations in time of public emergency.

Article 11 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on Situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies, pays particular attention to the obligation of States parties to undertake “all necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in situations of risk, including situations of armed conflict, humanitarian emergencies and the occurrence of natural disasters.” Further more, Article 4.1, states that “States Parties undertake to ensure and promote the full realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all persons with disabilities without discrimination of any kind on the basis of disability” and Article 32, recognizes the importance of international cooperation to address the limited capacities of some States to respond to situations of risk and humanitarian crises.

Thematic study on the rights of persons with disabilities under article 11 (relating to situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies) of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities According to OHCHR:

In order to comply with Article 11 of the CRPD, States and other relevant humanitarian actors are required to:

  • reform their policies and practices in the context of situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies under the CRPD;
  • ensure effective management and dissemination of accessible information at all stages of emergencies;
  • ensure active coordination, participation and meaningful consultation with persons with disabilities and their representative organizations, including women, boys and girls with disabilities, at all levels;
  • mobilize adequate, timely and predictable resources to operationalize their commitment for emergency preparedness and response that is inclusive of and accessible to persons with disabilities following a human rights-based approach in their programming efforts, in order to avoid excluding members of this group;
  • build capacity across stakeholders, including both military and civilian, peacekeeping personnel, and other field workers intervening in emergency situations regarding the rights of persons with disabilities;
  • implement international cooperation in line with the standards established in the CRPD;
  • avoid including in their disability-related strategies matters of prevention of primary impairments;
  • promote the inclusion of persons with disabilities in existing UN frameworks dealing with conflict and emergency situations;
  • adopt internationally agreed guidelines on humanitarian response for upholding the rights of persons with disabilities.

Making Every Life Count: Ensuring Equality and Protection for Persons with Disabilities in Armed Conflicts. Hart, N., Crock, M., McCallum, R., Saul, B. (2014) Monash University Law Review, 40(1), 148-174.

The War Report 2013 includes a chapter on Protecting Persons with Disabilities in Armed Conflict: In Chapter 7, Megan Burke and Loren Persi Vicentic look at how law and policy endeavor to protect persons with disabilities in conflicts, an area justly given renewed impetus by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Disability, Natural Disasters and Emergency Situations– UN

Guidance note on disability and emergency risk management for health– World Health Organization

Emergencies and Disability– Source, International Information Support Centre

In emergency situations of natural disaster or conflict, people with disabilities are very often excluded or neglected. This is mainly due to the exclusionary policies and practices of governments, service providers and humanitarian actors, attitudinal barriers, and lack of knowledge regarding the specific challenges that people with disabilities face. Additionally, there is a lack of participation by people with disabilities in contingency planning and disaster risk management.

This key list gathers introductory information, manuals and guides, specific resources for mental health and education in emergency situations, and case studies about people with disabilities in emergency situations. Access the list.

War, Armed Conflict & Disability Challenges, Statistics, Facts, Office of the UN Special Rapporteur on Disability

The Oslo Conference on Disability in Conflicts and Emergencies, “Reaching the most vulnerable”

The conference in Oslo May 2011 explored how states and international organisations may address the inclusion of disabled people in emergency responses in practice.
Persons with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to disasters and crises, both on account of disability and poverty; yet they are often ignored or excluded at all levels of disaster preparedness, mitigation and intervention. More than half a billion people with disabilities live in countries often affected by conflicts and natural disasters. The conference was hosted by the Norwegian disability umbrella organisation, The Atlas Alliance, in cooperation with the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The conference aimed primarily at individuals within Governments, the UN and International NGOs responsible for making disaster risk reduction and emergency response policies and implementation strategies.

Other links from the Oslo Conference on Disability in Conflicts and Emergencies:
Disability in Conflicts and Emergencies – “Reaching the most vulnerable”- IDDC

Oslo Conference on Disability in Conflicts and Emergencies The Atlas Alliance

Disability in Conflicts and Emergencies, Fact sheet– The Atlas Alliance


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