“Situation of Persons with Disabilities in Armed Conflict” Arria-Formula Meeting
At 3 pm on Monday afternoon (3 December), Poland, in partnership with Côte d’Ivoire, Germany, Kuwait and Peru, and with the cooperation of OHCHR, UNICEF, and the International Disability Alliance, is organising an Arria-formula meeting intended to focus the attention of Council members on the disproportionate impact of armed conflict on persons with disabilities.
Ambassador Joanna Wronecka (Poland) will chair the meeting, which will be open to UN member states, permanent observers and non-governmental organisations. Briefers expected to participate in the meeting are:
- Catalina Devandas Aguilar, the Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (via video teleconference);
- Vladimir Cuk, Executive Director, International Disability Alliance;
- Shanelle Hall, Deputy Executive Director, UNICEF;
- Michael Stein, Executive Director of the Harvard Law School Project on Disability; and
- Hansjoerg Strohmeyer, Chief of Policy, OCHA.
According to the concept note circulated in preparation for the discussion, among the meeting’s objectives are to: present actions that the Council could consider to assist and protect persons with disabilities; “recognize the critical importance of full and meaningful consultation with, and participation of, persons with disabilities and their representative organizations in humanitarian action, peacebuilding and post-conflict management”; and “explore the legal obligations to protect and assist persons with disabilities during conflict”.
It is estimated that there are over 1 billion persons with disabilities worldwide. It is also estimated that some 16% of all disabilities are war- and conflict-related. Persons with disabilities already tend to be among the most marginalised in most environments; in conflict-affected situations, however, they are likely to become the most vulnerable. Challenges and risks faced by populations affected by conflict—such as forcible displacement, hunger, conflict-related human rights violations and violence—are considerably heightened for civilians with disabilities.
In its previous discussions of the impact of conflict on civilians, the Council has not specifically considered the impact of conflict on and the special needs, risks, and challenges for persons with disabilities. The Arria meeting is likely to afford members an opportunity to become more familiar with the body of international law that addresses the needs and rights of persons with disabilities, such as the 2006 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the relevant provisions of international human rights and humanitarian law.
Looking ahead, it is hoped that increased attention to and awareness of this aspect of conflict will lead to the elaboration of well-tailored policies and improve crisis management regarding persons with disabilities. The meeting will further allow Council members to familiarise themselves with the relevant work done in the different areas of the UN system and the Guidelines on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action that the Inter-Agency Standing Committee is currently developing.