World Humanitarian Summit - Inclusion of persons with disabilities into humanitarian action

There is a strong intersection between humanitarian crises and persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities worldwide are disproportionately affected by disaster and conflict due to entrenched discrimination, which exacerbates an already critical situation, and due to barriers that restrict their access to essential protection and humanitarian assistance provided to the crisis-affected communities. The costs of humanitarian interventions that are not designed to respond to the explicit needs of the diversity of persons with disabilities are counted in human lives.

On 23 and 24 May 2016, the Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, Catalina Devandas Aguilar, participated in the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul (Turkey), a landmark international event that offered a unique and timely opportunity to foster international support for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of humanitarian action. In her statement ahead of the event, the Special Rapporteur called the attention of the international community on the challenges created by the absence of clearly defined disability-inclusive guidelines and protocols on humanitarian action and the need to closely consult with and actively involve persons with disabilities in the design, planning, coordination, implementation and monitoring of humanitarian programmes.

The situation of persons with disabilities was discussed in several roundtables and sessions of the Summit. On the first day, the Special Rapporteur participated as a panellist in a side event moderated by the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, where she highlighted the added value of adopting a human rights-based approach to humanitarian action, in accordance with international human rights law and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in particular.

In support of the Summit’s commitment to “leave no one behind”, the Special Rapporteur moderated the Special Session on the inclusion of persons with disabilities into humanitarian action, which was attended by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon . The session culminated with the endorsement of the Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action, developed in the lead up to the Summit by over 70 stakeholders including States, UN agencies, civil society, and global, regional and national organisations of persons with disabilities.