* Any views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.New charter is a victory for disabled people who have been largely ignored in humanitarian aid operations
London, 24th May 2016. The World Humanitarian Summit, which ends today in Istanbul, marked a major step forward for people with disabilities and for impartial humanitarian aid. A brand new Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action, launched by Handicap International and several partner organisations, attracted support from nearly 100 States, humanitarian organisations, funding bodies, and non-profit organisations during a special session on disability on 23rd May. The Charter stands to be a victory for people with disabilities, who have been largely ignored by humanitarian aid.
Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon added his support to the Charter at the special session. “The Charter is not an end in itself,” he cautioned, stressing the importance of applying the principles contained in the text in practice.
During the special session on disability, 96 participants signed the charter and expressed their enthusiastic support for humanitarian action that is more inclusive of people with disabilities. They included representatives of States such as Australia, Finland, Luxembourg, Germany, and the United Kingdom, the leaders of United Nations organisations, representatives of NGOs and human rights organisations, a representative of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, and disabled people’s organisations.
“We are pleased that so many organisations and States have signed the Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities,” declared Anne Héry, head of advocacy at Handicap International. “We are also pleased with the diversity of the signatories. The Charter brings an end to a great injustice, since the rights and needs of people with disabilities are still widely ignored during crises. Handicap International will work tirelessly to ensure this charter is put into practice.”
Signatories promise that their future humanitarian actions will be inclusive of people with disabilities, based on five principals:
- non-discrimination and recognition of the diversity of people with disabilities;
- involvement of people with disabilities in developing humanitarian programs;
- ensuring services and humanitarian assistance are equally available for and accessible to all people with disabilities;
- implementation of inclusive global policies;
- cooperation and coordination among humanitarian actors to improve inclusion of people with disabilities.
The charter remains open for signature by States, NGOs, and humanitarian aid funding bodies. It is accompanied by an action plan to implement the charter.
The special session on disability, jointly organised and moderated by Handicap International, is the result of an effort between disabled people’s organisations and a small group of NGOs and States convinced of the absolute necessity of understanding and removing obstacles faced by people with disabilities in accessing aid.
- Handicap International experts are available for comment in Turkey and the U.K.
- Download a full press kit here
- States, NGOs and funding bodies can sign the Charter here.
About Handicap International
Co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Handicap International is an independent charity working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster. We work tirelessly alongside disabled and vulnerable people to help meet their basic needs, improve their living conditions and promote respect for their dignity and fundamental rights.