Empowerment: Persons with Disabilities: Actors & Activities

Main actors

As the concern for people with disabilities in post conflict countries has first been addressed as an issue by humanitarian actors, these agencies have taken the lead on the subject and remain the most prominent initiators of programs and activities. However, most of them now advocate for a continuum strategy between the conflict and post-conflict phase, and are indeed involved in important aspects of peacebuilding programs.

Within the United Nations system, the UN Commission for Social Development (as part of ECOSOC) and the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat are involved in the policy and advocacy dimensions of the effort. The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), the primary mechanism for inter-agency coordination of humanitarian assistance and the cluster approach, and a unique forum involving the key UN and non-UN humanitarian partners, is active in the more operational dimensions of the exchanges. Cluster leads are responsible for mainstreaming issues into their mandated areas.

Among other specialized agencies, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and World Health Organization (WHO) are the most active on persons with disabilities... The World Bank (and its social funds) is also increasingly involved in the domain.

At the international level, the Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children, an independent affiliate of the International Rescue Committee, has been very active in the production of research, studies, advocacy and policy programs.

Among the most engaged actors, at the international level, on the cause of persons with disabilities are:
In addition to this list, a number of consortiums have been formed. The International Disability and Development Consortium is comprised of 20 disabled peoples organizations and international NGOs focused on issues around persons with disabilities. Other umbrella organizations include Global Partnership for Disability and Development.

The United Nations is also involved in this arena, for instance the United Nations Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: UNEnable. Also, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has recently published a reference list for all the specialized international agencies working on or with people with disabilities, as well as local NGOs: NGOs & UN Agencies Assisting Persons with Disabilities.

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A number of international, national and local actors, inter-governmental, governmental and non-governmental, are engaged in the protection, inclusion and empowerment of persons with disabilities in different dimensions of the peacebuilding processes.

Their initiatives include:
  • Awareness campaigns and advocacy on the rights and needs of persons with disabilities at the international, regional, national and local levels;
  • International conferences and networking;
  • Awareness training and development of guidelines for practitioners;
  • Lobbying and technical advice to incorporate the needs of persons with disabilities into international and national policies as well as response mechanisms;
  • Networking and partnerships at the national level;
  • Support to local associations and capacity training, in particular in leadership skills and self-confidence techniques;
  • Facilitation of access to information, infrastructures and services for the persons concerned;
  • Education (including, in the case of children and youth with disabilities, the support to specialized structures for children education but also their inclusion into mainstream education)
  • Skill training (in particular vocational training)
  • Support to socio-economic individual and group projects, access to bank loan and micro-credits; Support to access to employment;
  • Support to community-based rehabilitation and reintegration projects covering a number of activities, including mine clearance efforts, community health and orthopedic services, psychological support, the prevention of disabling diseases, the provision of psychological support for victims, etc.,

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