Disability and Armed Conflict

Completed in December 2021

An estimated 15 percent of the world’s population, approximately 1 billion people, have some form of disability (involving physical, psychosocial and/or intellectual impairments) a large percentage of which will be living in conflict-affected states.

Conflict not only renders a person disabled directly, e.g. when a landmine blast amputates a leg, it also inflicts indirect harm since persons with disabilities may face physical and/or communication barriers to accessing emergency information and humanitarian assistance, rendering them more vulnerable to harm and potentially exacerbating a pre-existing impairment. Persons with disabilities are also at higher risk of injury or death during periods of armed conflict, either as specific targets or through insufficient support to allow them to flee the violence. Despite the high number of persons with disabilities affected by armed conflict and the particular support that they need, persons with disabilities are too often the forgotten victims of armed conflict.

Objective

Building on our publication Disability and Armed Conflict – the first study on this issue released in 2019 – this project carried out by Alice Priddy aimed to ensure better protection of persons with disabilities in situations of armed conflict and in its immediate aftermath by:

  • Raising awareness about the legal obligations to protect and assist persons with disabilities during conflict under international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law
  • Providing academic and policy communities – states, intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations, armed non-state actors, humanitarian organisations and persons with disabilities – with concrete guidance to apply IHL in a disability-inclusive manner
  • Providing guidance to the armed forces on how to integrate a disability perspective into military manuals and the training of their militaries
  • Contributing to a change in policies in the humanitarian sector to fully respect the rights of persons with disabilities

NEWS

A Royal Air Force CH-47 Chinook helicopter arrives to extract troops at the end of an operation in Afghanistan News

New Guidance on How to Integrate a Disability Perspective into Military Manuals

28 June 2021

Our new Military Briefing: Persons with Disabilities and Armed Conflict provides guidance to the armed forces on how to integrate a disability perspective into military manuals and the training of their militaries.

Read more >

View of the cover page of the publication Diability and Armed Conflict News

Our New Publication Addresses the Devastating Impact of Conflict on Persons with Disabilities

7 May 2019

Our new publication brings attention to the devastating impact conflict has on persons with disabilities and highlights that many of the key international humanitarian law provisions that serve to minimize the impact of armed conflict are not being applied in a disability inclusive manner, resulting in persons with disabilities being killed, seriously injured or left behind as families flee armed attacks.

Read more >

Group photo of particiants in the training News

A Workshop in Vietnam on How the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Applies to Survivors of the Conflict

19 February 2019

Our local partner in Vietnam, the Association for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, hosted a one day workshop as part of our research project Disability and Armed Conflict.

Read more >

OUTPUT

Addressing the Devastating Impact of Armed Conflict on Persons With Disabilities

The publication Disability and Armed Conflict – the first study on this issue released in 2019 – brought attention to the devastating impact conflict has on persons with disabilities. It highlighted that many of the key international humanitarian law (IHL) provisions that serve to minimize the impact of armed conflicts – such as the proportionality assessment and advanced effective warnings – are not being applied in a disability-inclusive manner, resulting in persons with disabilities being killed, seriously injured or left behind as families flee armed attacks.

Via recommendations, discussions with key stakeholders and broad dissemination in the human rights and humanitarian sectors, it triggered significant changes in the way humanitarian actors and states address this issue.

Guidance to Armed Forces

Our Military Briefing: Persons with Disabilities and Armed Conflict provides guidance to the armed forces on how to integrate a disability perspective into military manuals and the training of their militaries. Launched in 2021, it translates the findings of our larger academic research into practical advice and avenues to incorporate this issue into military operations.

Concrete Changes on the Ground

The project's team conducted training sessions in Palestine, Ukraine and Vietnam, to provide stakeholders on the ground – local organizations of persons with disabilities, state representatives, UN agencies and other international humanitarian organizations – with an overview of international law applicable to persons with disabilities and their inclusion in norms related to the conduct of hostilities.

A Photo Exhibition to Raise Awareness

Determined to bring attention to the lives of persons with disabilities living in armed conflict, we partnered with the photographer Giles Duley to tell the stories of some of those affected by armed conflict.

His photo exhibition, accessible to persons with a visual impairment, told the stories of persons with disabilities during and following armed conflicts including Odai in Gaza, Yasmine in Iraq, Betty in Uganda and Kholoud who fled Syria with her family and now lives in Holland after having spent almost three years in Lebanon.

Publications

cover of the publication

Military Briefing: Persons with Disabilities and Armed Conflict

March 2021

Alice Priddy

The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

Download >

Cover page of the publication

Briefing No°14: Disability and Armed Conflict

April 2019

Alice Priddy

Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

Download >

Past Events

Implementing Article 11 of the CRPD in Armed Conflict: Making Persons with Disabilities More Visible

17 June 2021, 10:00-11:15

Read more >

Photo Exhibition: Disability and Armed Conflict

26 August - 29 September 2019

Read more >

First to be Forgotten – Persons with Disabilities and Armed Conflict

9 May 2019, 18:00-19:30

Read more >

Photo Exhibition: Disability and Armed Conflict

6 May - 3 June 2019

Read more >

Exposition Photo: Handicap et Conflit Armé

6 May - 3 June 2019

Read more >

MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

A general view of participants during the 54nd session of the Human Rights Council News

New Paper Unlocks the Potential of the UN Human Rights Council in Global Conflict Prevention

3 November 2023

Our new policy brief Delivering the Right to Peace: Towards a Reinforced Role of the Human Rights Council in the UN's Peace and Security Framework delves into the possibilities of enhancing the Human Rights Council's involvement in the UN's peace and security functions.

Read more

View of the book cover page News

Exploring the Principle of Non-Intervention: New Book by Swiss IHL Chair Marco Roscini

26 February 2024

In his new book, our Swiss IHL Chair Professor Marco Roscini dissects the principle of non-intervention – a core principle of international law and a pillar of international relations.

Read more

Event

Launch – International Humanitarian Law Rules, Controversies, and Solutions to Problems Arising in Warfare, 2nd Edition

28 March 2024, 12:30-14:00

In this launch event, key experts will comment and dialogue with Professor Sassòli on specific aspects of the book, including naval warfare and the law of neutrality, sources of IHL, IHL and human rights, as well as the classification of armed conflict

Read more

Mali, Ménaka Region, Tassassat village. In this village, the ICRC has installed a watering place to support the villagers who are affected by the combined effects of conflict and climate change. Event

The Weaponizing of Water in Contemporary Armed Conflicts

27 February 2024, 12:15-14:00

This IHL Talk, organized with the Geneva Water Hub, will discuss the weaponization of water in contemporary armed conflicts and the importance of IHL and human rights law in preventing and mitigating the consequences on civilians.

Read more

Afghanistan, Parwan detention facility. Inside a room where detainees of the prison, separated by an acrylic glass, are allowed to meet with their families a couple of times per year with the help of the ICRC employees who facilitate the programme. Short Course

Preventing and Combating Terrorism

25 April - 17 May 2024

This online short course discusses the extent to which states may limit and/or derogate from their international human rights obligations in order to prevent and counter-terrorism and thus protect persons under their jurisdiction.

Read more

Iraq, Mosul. View of the west bank after the war. Project

IHL in Focus

Started in January 2024

As a yearly publication, it keeps decision-makers, practitioners and scholars up-to-date with the latest trends and challenges in IHL implementation in over 100 armed conflicts worldwide – both international and non-international.

Read more

Computer screen with warning: civilian infrastucture: do not attack Project

The Digitalization of Armed Conflict

Started in September 2020

This project will explore humanitarian consequences and protection needs caused by the digitalization of armed conflicts and the extent to which these needs are addressed by international law, especially international humanitarian law.

Read more

Cover Page of Research Brief Publication

Environmental Human Rights as a Tool in Early Warning and Conflict Prevention The Role of the Human Rights Council

published on January 2024

Erica Harper, Baïna Ubushieva

Read more

Cover page of the publication Publication

Delivering the Right to Peace: Towards a Reinforced Role of the Human Rights Council in the UN's Peace and Security Framework

published on October 2023

Erica Harper, Adam Day

Read more