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

Article 11 of the CRPD reinforces and specifies States’ obligations under international humanitarian law to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in situations of risk, including armed conflict, humanitarian emergencies and natural disasters, consistent with the approach adopted by the CRPD

Article 11 of the CRPD calls for international humanitarian law to be read through a human rights-based approach to disability. This will necessarily lead to substantive changes in policy and practice. It is important to note that International humanitarian law on the other hand has been codified under previously dominant understandings of disability, notably the medical model of disability, which focuses exclusively on the impairment of the person and reflects a paternalistic approach to persons with disabilities.

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.

In its resolution 28/4, the Human Rights Council requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a study on Article 11 of the CRPD on situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies, in consultation with States and other relevant stakeholders. Consequently, OHCHR invited them to present submissions by transmitting a set of questions related to existing legislation and policies regarding persons with disabilities in situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies. As a result, OHCHR received the following responses: 

Submissions to the thematic study article 11 of the Convention on the rights of persons with Disabilities (CRPD), on situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies