Webinar: Persons with disabilities in humanitarian response: New guidelines for more inclusive humanitarian action

Banner for the webinar Persons with disabilities in humanitarian response: New guidelines for more inclusive humanitarian action

The IASC recently endorsed guidelines for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in humanitarian action. How can these guidelines help make humanitarian action more inclusive? On 26 February 2020, ICVA and PHAP organized a webinar together with the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) secretariat and the Reference Group on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action, which introduced the guidelines and discuss how they can be implemented in practice. The three interim co-chairs of the Reference Group, as well as one of the NGOs that has been implementing the IASC Guidelines in their organization, spoke about the guidelines, their development, structure, and how they can be used in practice.

Persons with disabilities are among the most marginalized people in crisis-affected communities and disproportionately affected by conflict and disasters. In some contexts, their mortality rate is two to four times higher than that of persons without disabilities and persons with disabilities face substantial barriers to accessing assistance. A recent study found that 92% of humanitarian actors think that persons with disabilities are not properly taken into account in humanitarian response and are often considered only as recipients of aid and not as actors in the response.

That is also why delivering better for persons with disabilities was part of the discussions of the World Humanitarian Summit and its follow-up commitments, including through the Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action (2016). In 2016, the United Nations Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Working Group agreed to the establishment of a Task Team on the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action, which drafted the Guidelines on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action. The IASC Guidelines were drafted through a large number of consultations with member States, organizations of persons with disabilities, civil society organizations working with persons with disabilities and/or in humanitarian action, and UN agencies. They were endorsed by the IASC Principals in October 2019 and launched in New York in November 2019 and in Geneva in February 2020. At the same time, a Reference Group was established to continue to bring together key stakeholders for coordinated efforts on the implementation of the IASC Guidelines on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities and provide support, among others, their dissemination and to develop supporting tools and resources.  

As one of the few global initiatives where the persons concerned have been directly involved in the drafting of a tool serving intervention at their benefit, these Guidelines are a crucial step forward to achieve disability-inclusive humanitarian action. They serve the following four objectives:

  • To provide practical guidance on including persons with disabilities in humanitarian programming and coordination;
  • To increase capacity among humanitarian stakeholders to develop and implement quality programs that are inclusive of persons with disabilities;
  • To describe the roles and responsibilities of humanitarian stakeholders to include persons with disabilities in humanitarian action; and
  • To increase and improve the participation of persons with disabilities and organization of persons with disabilities in preparedness, response and recovery.

However, what will make the real difference for persons with disabilities is how these guidelines are implemented in practice. Humanitarian actors need to translate the IASC Guidelines into concrete improvements in their daily activities, continuing to work closely with persons with disabilities and their representative organizations.

Target audience and event access

The event is open to all humanitarian practitioners, particularly NGO staff, interested in humanitarian policy issues and their implications for front-line work.

Accessibility and screen readers

The official guide for using assistive technologies in Adobe Connect is available at helpx.adobe.com/adobe-connect/using/accessibility-features.html

The event can run both in your browser and as a standalone desktop application. For use with screen readers, it is generally recommended to run the event as a standalone application, but some users report better compatibility with the browser version. You will be asked whether to use the application or the browser version when logging in.

A full guide for screen readers and Adobe Connect is available here: www.umassmed.edu/globalassets/it/documents/faculty-services/adobe-connect/vendordoc-visual-disabilities.pdf

Note that the event will also have live captions in English.

Recommended resources

We recommend everyone who is attending the webinar to download and get acquainted with the Guidelines:


Event recording (YouTube – faster loading time)

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Event recording (audio podcast)

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Event recording (Adobe Connect - higher quality)

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Sien Andries Sien Andries Inclusive Humanitarian Action Specialist, Humanity and Inclusion
Allan A. Calma Allan A. Calma Global Humanitarian Coordinator, Lutheran World Federation (LWF)
Kirstin Lange Kirstin Lange Programme Specialist (Disability Inclusive Humanitarian Action), UNICEF
Elham Youssefian Elham Youssefian Inclusive Humanitarian Action and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Advisor, International Disability Alliance


Angharad Laing Angharad Laing Executive Director, PHAP
Mirela Shuteriqi Mirela Shuteriqi Director of Policy, ICVA