Disability and Armed Conflict

Started in May 2016

Background

Approximately 500 million people with disabilities live in states affected by armed conflict. 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

This project aims to ensure better protection of persons with disabilities in situations of armed conflict and in its immediate aftermath by identifying the legal obligations to protect and assist persons with disabilities during conflict. The project will test three hypotheses, the results of which will provide academic and policy communities, states, intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations, armed non-state actors, humanitarian organisations and persons with disabilities with:

  • A previously unavailable and detailed explanation and analysis of legal obligations (under international humanitarian law, international human rights law, international refugee law and weapons law) to protect and assist persons with disabilities during armed conflict and its aftermath;
  • Previously unavailable information concerning the situation of persons with disabilities during armed conflict and in its aftermath in five case study states - the Democratic Republic of Congo, Colombia, Palestine, Ukraine and Vietnam
  • An explanation and justification of what laws, policies and practices are required to meet the obligation to protect and assist persons with disabilities during and in the aftermath of armed conflict.

For the first time, these hypotheses will be tested by answering a series of research questions in a comparative way. The project’s methodology involves a combination of tailored desk research; field research including interviews of persons with disabilities, their carers and humanitarian personnel; and field workshops to disseminate and test preliminary findings, seek feedback on discrete issues and empower stakeholders. It will involve multidisciplinary applied research, bringing together: legal, policy and medical expertise; experienced researchers; persons with disabilities living in conflict-affected states; and humanitarian personnel engaged in assessing the needs of persons with disabilities in armed conflict and in its aftermath.

The project has been awarded a research grant from the Swiss Network for International Studies (SNIS) and is being undertaken in partnership with Humanity & Inclusion (the new name of Handicap International), the Institute for Biomedical Ethics at the University of Basel, Psychiatric University Clinics Basel, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities and the Legacy of War Foundation.

The first 12 months of the project were supported by Pro Victimis.

The projects findings will be published in autumn 2018.

TEAM

Picture of Annyssa Bellal

Annyssa Bellal

Senior Research Fellow and Strategic Adviser on International Humanitarian Law

Annyssa Bellal's areas of expertise include public international law, international humanitarian law, international human rights law and armed non-state actors.

Picture of Alice Priddy

Alice Priddy

Senior Researcher

Alice Priddy's current main research areas concern the rights of persons with disabilities during and in the immediate aftermath of armed conflict.

Portrait of Giles Duley

Giles Duley

Photographer

Giles Duley is a British documentary photographer and photojournalist. His work has been exhibited and published worldwide in numerous papers and magazines and he has talked about his experiences on television, radio and at several international and national events.

NEWS AND EVENTS

Workshop in Kiev on disability and armed conflict News

Disability and Armed Conflict in Ukraine: Training Local and Humanitarian Actors

December 2018

Our Senior Researcher Alice Priddy led last week a workshop in Kiev – in partnership with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Global Protection Cluster in Ukraine – on the protection of persons with disabilities living in the occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk.

 

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Workshop in the oPt on disability in armed conflict News

Addressing the Protection of Persons with Disabilities in Gaza and the West Bank

November 2018

Our Senior Researcher Alice Priddy led last week a series of workshops in Gaza and the occupied West Bank concerning the protection of persons with disabilities living in the occupied Palestinian territories.

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Screenplay presenting the CRPD session News

UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Discusses our Research Project on Disability in Armed Conflict

September 2018

Our Senior Researcher Alice Priddy presented our research project on disability in armed conflict to the members of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Read more >

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