- January 30, 2018


The Pacific Disability Forum (PDF), in partnership with the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Task Team on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action and the International Disability Alliance (co-chair of the Task Team), held a regional multi-stakeholder consultation for the Pacific in Nadi, Fiji from 24 – 25 January 2018. The consultation was made possible from support by the Permanent Mission of Australia to the United Nations in Geneva.

The workshop is the first in a series of regional consultations which will support the development of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Guidelines on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action (“the Guidelines”). It provided an opportunity for organizations of persons with disabilities (DPOs), humanitarian and development stakeholders and governments based in the Pacific region to input into the development of the Guidelines, noting the unique experience of small, isolated and developing Pacific Island Countries in natural disasters and climate change.

Sixty participants, including DPOs, humanitarian organizations, UN agencies, representatives from the Fijian and Vanuatu governments, Pacific intergovernmental organisations, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the New Zealand High Commission and the UN Resident Coordinator for the Pacific were present over the two days.

The workshop aimed to:

  • Share feedback on priority areas/key components for the Guidelines
  • Obtain feedback from stakeholders on the level of details required for the Guidelines to be effective and relevant in the field
  • Collect existing information, promising practices and other relevant information from participants to support the content development of the Guidelines
  • Identify how regional humanitarian actors can contribute to phases of the Guidelines development process, including establishing appropriate feedback mechanisms. 

The Guidelines will assist humanitarian actors, governments, affected communities and organizations of persons with disabilities to coordinate, plan, implement, monitor and evaluate essential actions that foster the effectiveness, appropriateness and efficiency of humanitarian action, resulting in the full and effective participation and inclusion of persons with disabilities and changing practice across all sectors and in all phases of humanitarian action.

Day One

The workshop began on 24 January with a formal welcome from the Pacific Disability Forum (Mr. Setareki Macanawai, CEO and Mr. Katabwena Tawaka, Programme Manager) and background on the process leading to the development of the Guidelines by UNICEF as the co-chair of the IASC Task Team (Mr. Gopal Mitra, Disability Programme Specialist).

The keynote speech was delivered by the UN Resident Coordinator (Ms. Osnat Lubrani), highlighted the importance of a two-pronged approach—ensuring that humanitarian action is “as local as possible while and as international as necessary”. In that regard, Ms. Lubrani noted the importance of localization, in particular: the importance of sustainable, local initiatives; promoting the engagement of local organizations in monitoring and needs assessments and the voices of community leaders; strengthening the decision-making capacities of local actors; and ensuring that most-marginalized populations are not left behind. 

Working Sessions

In the morning session, participants divided into groups to discuss core elements of the Guidelines: the Guidelines’ target audience; identification of gaps and opportunities related to inclusion of persons with disabilities in humanitarian action; and the specific risks and barriers faced by persons with disabilities in emergencies, and the particular (existing or future) capacities of DPOs that can contribute to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in this regard. 

Recommendations from this session included:

  • Reinforcing the importance of diversity and inclusion throughout the Guidelines
  • Incorporating legal frameworks relevant to humanitarian action (such as CEDAW, CRC, CESCR)
  • The importance of localization of response, and how that might be reflected in a way that is relevant for global-level development of policies and programmes
  • Identifying governments as a target audience, including the importance of a cross-agency approach and reflecting on governments’ role of engaging civil military, civil defence, police and fire services and service providers in their national response
  • Including media, the private sector and research institutions as secondary audiences who can play key roles in the dissemination of information and services across preparedness, response, recovery and rehabilitation
  • Consideration of the role of regional and inter-governmental bodies, and the particular role of the International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement as a non-State actor
  • Utilizing technology to develop innovative, accessible and responsive tools and strategies

The afternoon session asked participants to break into two groups to discuss:

Group One: Barriers and opportunities in humanitarian action, and steps that can be taken by humanitarian actors to build capacity, leadership and empowerment of persons with disabilities and their representative organizations

Group Two: Cross-cutting and transversal themes that should be addressed by the Guideline. 

Group One participants raised the lack of resources (financial, human and technical) as a significant barrier for both DPOs and humanitarian actors, and lack of coherence and coordination amongst sectors and actors in the development of inclusive emergency response. Participants also discussed the importance of addressing the responsibilities of DPOs and governments, and utilizing global accountability mechanisms in developing and adapting inclusive policies and programmes. A deepened understanding of inclusion and participation was identified as an opportunity of inclusive humanitarian action. DPOs reflected on their role as advocates for inclusive policies and programmes, as well as their practical role providing information on their membership that can and should be utilized in humanitarian response.

It was noted that in the Pacific, the involvement of DPOs in consultation processes led to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in national and regional policies and programmes, yet more information is required to know where and how to engage at the global, regional and national levels. Transfer of knowledge and trainings by humanitarian actors could therefore strengthen DPOs work in this regard. 

Group Two participants reflected on the challenge of identifying the transversal or cross-cutting nature of principles, issues and themes. A recommendation to review existing IASC Guidelines and other relevant documents to see how these areas are addressed was proposed. 

Day Two

During the morning of the consultation’s second day, participants were asked to share recommendations and key points for consideration on elements of the Humanitarian Programme Cycle particularly relevant in order to achieve inclusion of persons with disabilities in humanitarian action. These elements included: preparedness; needs assessment and analysis; strategic planning; resource mobilization; monitoring and implementation; and operational peer review and evaluation. Participants were also encouraged to consider elements regarding coordination and information management.

In the afternoon, participants worked in groups to consider approaches, processes and actions within humanitarian sectors that would enable programmer and project management personnel to ensure the inclusion of persons with disabilities throughout the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of preparedness, response and recovery interventions. Sectors considered were protection; water, sanitation and hygiene; shelter and camp coordination/management; and inter-agency/inter-sectoral coordination.

Next Steps

A detailed report on the outcomes of the consultation will be circulated in the coming weeks, and outcomes of the consultation will feed into the first draft of the Guidelines.

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