Security Council Arria Formula Meeting: Situation of persons with disabilities in armed conflict

Statement by H.E. Lise Gregoire-van Haaren,
Deputy Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations

New York, 3 December 2018

The Kingdom of the Netherlands would like to thank the briefers for their very insightful briefings. And I would also like to thank Poland, Cote D’Ivoire, Germany, Kuwait, Peru, OHCHR, UNICEF and the International Disability Alliance for jointly organizing this important meeting. Especially today during the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, I think that is a very strong signal.

We align ourselves with the statement by the European Union, that will be made later on during this meeting.

I would like to make three points in my statement:

  • The importance of protecting all vulnerable people;
  • The impact of armed conflict on persons with disabilities;
  • The need to strengthen international cooperation.

1. Protection of all vulnerable people

My first point is about the protection of all vulnerable people. People with disabilities living in poverty are amongst the most excluded groups in society. Armed conflict has a disproportionate impact on vulnerable people, not just causing disabilities, but also leading to widespread violations of the rights of people with disabilities. Vulnerable people in conflict and emergency situations should receive adequate protection, in order for them to build a safe and dignified existence.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands welcomes an integrated approach to protect all civilians, including those who are most vulnerable and often most difficult to protect. This is needed to uphold the standards of International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law and the respect of dignity of people.

2. Impact of armed conflict on persons with disabilities

Secondly, during crises the discrimination, exclusion and stigma people with disabilities normally encounter further increase. They are at a higher risk of violence, including sexual and gender-based violence, and at risk of separation from the caregivers they normally rely on.

One of the biggest challenges during crises is that people with disabilities are often invisible. Not only do they have less access to basic services such as food, water and sanitation and life-saving interventions, but these factors also lead to additional stress, and increase the risk of developing mental health problems. And I’d like to thank professor Michael Stein for highlighting this issue in his briefing.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands is therefore proud to host the second edition of the Global Mental Health Summit in 2019 which will bring involved parties together to address these issues.

3. Strengthening international cooperation

My final point is about strengthening international cooperation. We have to work on further implementing the Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action and the Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The UN Security Council’s political response to armed conflicts and deployment of peace missions should take note of the position and specific needs of people with disabilities in armed conflicts.

And I would like to thank the panelists for indicating and being very specific in where they see the most possibilities for progress within the work of the Security Council. And I really appreciate that, that you have been very specific so we can take that on forward.

Further, governments, agencies, NGOs need to better understand the unique needs of individuals with physical, psychological and intellectual disabilities. If you allow me, I have a question to the panelists:

How can we ensure essential leadership of people with physical, psychological and intellectual disabilities in order for them to play an active and visible role in this discussion?

Because meaningful representation and inclusion is crucial when making policies and creating programs. We will continue to acknowledge and support the rights of persons with disabilities.

Thank you very much.