Time for action for persons with disabilities at the World Humanitarian Summit

Cheryll and her family lost everything in the Typhoon Haiyan and temporarily lived in this makeshift shelter.
CBM/John Javellana

Camille Gosselin, Humanitarian Advocacy Manager of Handicap International, explains the Charter on "Inclusion of persons with disabilities in humanitarian action" that will be launched during the Summit.

On the 23rd and 24th May 2016 the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit(WHS) will take place in Istanbul, under the initiative of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Persons with disabilities will not be left behind!

Charter on "Inclusion of persons with disabilities in humanitarian action"will be launched during the Summit, setting out an agenda to make humanitarian action increasingly receptive to the rights and the needs of persons with disabilities. Every single interested organisation and State is invited to endorse the Charter.

Awareness and understanding of inclusion of persons with disabilities in humanitarian action is progressing, and humanitarian agencies are adopting targeted internal policies and tools. However, there are neither universally endorsed principles, nor standards or guidelines to ensure that humanitarian action is inclusive of persons with disabilities.

A group of civil society organisations, including Handicap InternationalCBM, the International Disability AllianceHuman Rights Watch and the Women's Refugee Commission, teamed up to drive real change at the WHS. A pioneering process has been set up for the development of the Charter on "Inclusion of persons with disabilities in humanitarian action", in a multi-stakeholder, transparent and inclusive manner. Involved stakeholders included the NGO international community, as well as national and regional organisations, UN representatives and agencies, especially the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, chairing the Inter-Agency Support Group of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and a large number of States and governments, led by Finland and Australia. The process included the organisation of two workshops to kick off and finalise the Charter. Lively discussions were also held on an online platform, open to all interested parties, for more than two months. 

The Charter puts forward five core principles to support humanitarian actors’ practices to be more inclusive of persons with disabilities. They are ensuring non-discrimination, foster participation of persons with disabilities, developing inclusive policies and guidelines, fostering an inclusive response and services, and improving cooperation and coordination among humanitarian actors. Identifying concrete actions and commitments to bring these principles to life, especially the development of standards and guidelines, will enhance effectiveness of and accountability in humanitarian action.

The Charter will be launched at the WHS Special Session on "Inclusion of persons with disabilities in humanitarian action" on 23 May, where representatives of Member States, UN agencies and NGOs will also state their commitments to bring the Charter to life.

Should you wish to receive more information, please contact Camille Gosselin, Humanitarian Advocacy Manager, Handicap International.