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UN Security Council Adopts First-Ever Resolution on Persons with Disabilities

NEW YORK, NY – The United Nations (UN) Security Council on World Refugee Day adopted its first-ever resolution on persons with disabilities in conflict. The resolution was unanimously adopted by all 15 Security Council members.

The resolution recognizes the disproportionate impact of armed conflict on persons with disabilities; urges Member States to enable the meaningful participation and representation of persons with disabilities in humanitarian action, conflict prevention, reconciliation and peacebuilding; and urges Member States to take steps to eliminate discrimination and marginalization of persons with disabilities.

In light of the new resolution, Joan Timoney, Vice President, Advocacy and External Relations at the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) issued the following statement:

“As an organization that has been working to advance the rights of displaced women and girls with disabilities, we welcome this resolution as a strong signal to ensure disability rights is part of the UN Security Council’s agenda. Persons with disabilities—especially women and girls —face specific challenges in conflict settings, but largely remain excluded from decision-making processes concerning their lives.

“With the adoption of this resolution, we urge members of the Security Council to consider the gendered dimensions of disability, which is too often left out of the Council's work, for example, in its discussions on women, peace, and security and on the protection of civilians. We were disappointed to see the Council adopt a recent resolution on conflict-related sexual violence that did not mention persons with disabilities despite the increased risks they face.”

Nujeen Mustafa, a former refugee, who fled from Syria to Germany in a wheelchair, in her briefing to the Security Council earlier this year, highlighted the gendered impact and why it is key to include persons with disabilities in humanitarian response:

“Being a woman and having a disability makes it doubly more difficult. For example, a man can ask for help from a male friend to flee. But in a society like Syria, a woman cannot. If you don’t have an immediate male relative, you cannot just call on a friend to carry you.

“People with disabilities are a resource, not a burden. We know best what risks we face and what we need, so ask for our input, involve us in aid planning, reach out to us to report on the challenges we face”