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DG ECHO Operational Guidance: The Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in EU-funded Humanitarian Aid Operations (January 2019) [EN/RU/UK]

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Part I. DG ECHO Disability Inclusion Guidance Note: Why and for Whom?

1. Introduction: context and purpose of the guidance

It is estimated that on average globally 15% of people have a disability, a proportion which is likely to sharply rise in humanitarian crises. Yet, manners of delivering assistance and protection to persons with disabilities in humanitarian settings continue to be insufficiently adapted.

The issue of disability inclusion in humanitarian settings has gained growing prominence at global level over the past years. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) adopted in 2006, to which the European Union is a party as well as all the European Union (EU) Member States , provides that “States Parties shall take, in accordance with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law, all necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in situations of risk, including situations of armed conflict, humanitarian emergencies and the occurrence of natural disasters” (Art.11). More recently, the Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action (the Charter) 5 launched at the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) in May 20166 and endorsed by the European Union was entirely devoted to this question.

At the EU level, Title II of the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union (Art. 10) and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights state that the European Union shall aim to combat discrimination based on, inter alia, disability (Art. 21). Furthermore, article 26 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights states that the EU recognises and respects the right of persons with disabilities to benefit from measures designed to ensure their independence, social and occupational integration and participation in the life of the community. The European Disability Strategy 2010-20208 calls on the EU and its Member States to promote the rights of persons with disabilities, including in their external action. These obligations and principles are reflected in the Humanitarian Aid Regulation and in the 2007 EU Consensus on Humanitarian Aid, which both refer to taking into account specific vulnerabilities, including disability, when responding to humanitarian needs.

In order to ensure that these commitments are turned into reality, the European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides, announced in December 2017 that, as of 2018, all EU-funded humanitarian partners would be required to take the needs of persons with disabilities into account in their projects.

This guidance developed by the European Commission's humanitarian affairs department (Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations – DG ECHO) is conceived as a tool to reach this goal. The main objectives of this guidance are more specifically:

  • To foster disability inclusion, i.e. the effective access and participation of persons with disabilities in humanitarian aid.
  • To ensure mainstreaming of disability, i.e. the process of incorporating protection principles and promoting meaningful access, safety and dignity of persons with disabilities in all EU-funded humanitarian operations.14
  • To provide DG ECHO partners and DG ECHO staff with the operational tools to ensure the above in the design, implementation and monitoring of EU-funded humanitarian projects.

To do so, this guidance builds on international standards and principles already agreed upon among humanitarian actors, Disabled Peoples’ Organisations (DPOs) and other key stakeholders, including the CRPD and the Charter. It also draws on existing and draft guidelines under development at the global level, such as the Inter Agency Standing Committee (IASC) guidelines on inclusion of persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action. As such, this guidance is conceived as a living document that may be revised as global guidance evolves. In addition, and critical to its development, this guidance was also the outcome of several consultations with DPOs and DG ECHO partners.