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Fighting for global policy change

Palestinian Territories, Gaza Strip, Jabalia refugee camp, destructions after a bombing. Palestinian Territories, Gaza Strip, Jabalia refugee camp, destructions after a bombing. Palestinian Territories, Gaza Strip, Jabalia refugee camp, destructions after a bombing. Palestinian Territories, Gaza Strip, Jabalia refugee camp, destructions after a bombing.

? B. Darrieux / HI

An ongoing commitment

For 35 years, HI has been working to meet the essential needs, improve the living conditions, and promote respect for the fundamental rights and dignity of people with disabilities and vulnerable populations.


In the early years, the impetus to fight against landmines came from our work in the refugee camps of Cambodia and Thailand where our teams witnessed the extent of the tragedy caused by landmines. A decade later, we took up the fight against cluster munitions, weapons which also indiscriminately kill and maim civilians, both during conflict and long after it has ended.

The campaigns conducted by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC), international NGO networks co-founded by HI, led to the adoption of two international disarmament treaties: the Mine Ban Treaty (Ottawa, 1997), the first international treaty to ban a specific conventional weapon, and the Convention on Cluster Munitions (Oslo, 2008). In recognition of the ICBL's significant contribution to global peace, its members were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997. Since then, HI has tirelessly pressed for crucial policy changes in numerous policy areas, with the rights, dignity and well-being of vulnerable populations, in particular victims of conflict and people with disabilities, at the heart of its actions.


Principles behind our actions for global policy change

HI's specific advocacy expertise is reflected in: 

Our evidence-based messages based on field experience which guarantees both the legitimacy and the credibility of our policy analyses and recommendations

Our determination to ensure that the voices of affected communities themselves are heard

Our commitment to tackling the causes of injustice at global level through direct lobbying of decision makers, membership of international NGO coalitions and public and media awareness campaigns.


We aspire to address intersecting factors of discrimination, marginalization and vulnerability through our advocacy work. These principles guarantee the coherency of our activities worldwide and the strength of the messages we deliver.


"Influencing global policy frameworks is a key part of HI’s social mission, rooted in our action in the countries where we work. Changing policy to create an environment that is more empowering for, and upholds the rights, dignity and well-being of vulnerable populations: that is also HI’s goal."

Anne Héry, Director of Advocacy and Institutional Relations, Humanity & Inclusion


Areas of action for global policy change

For 35 years, HI worked to meet the essential needs, improve the living conditions and promote respect for the fundamental rights and dignity of people with disabilities and vulnerable populations. Today, HI is seeking to influence States, United Nations institutions, the European Union and other multilateral organisations to actively bring about change. By leveraging the obligations embedded in international treaties such as the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (2009) and pledges made by the international community at international level in the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development (2015), and the Agenda for Humanity (2016), we are seeking to achieve concrete policy changes in three specific areas: humanitarian action, development  and disarmament.


Inclusive and principled humanitarian action


Supporting the inclusion of persons at risks, including people with disabilities, in humanitarian response

In emergencies, 75% of people with disabilities have no adequate access to basic services such as water, shelter, food or health *. Ensuring tailored access to essential services is fundamental to their protection and resilience in crisis situations. The humanitarian international community recognised the need for further investment in order to meet this challenge at the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit, which saw the launch of a Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action
HI is urging all humanitarian stakeholders to endorse the Charter and implement its five commitments on non-discrimination: participation, inclusive policy, inclusive response and services and cooperation and coordination. We are calling for all humanitarian actors to develop and implement policies and operational strategies that promote positive attitudes towards diversity and guarantee a coherent, accountable and effective approach to the inclusion of people with disabilities in humanitarian action. 

Inclusive and principled humanitarian action in specific crisis settings 

In collaboration with other NGOs, HI promotes the implementation of humanitarian assistance and relief efforts that respect the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence, and include and protect people at risk of discrimination and people with disabilities. HI focuses on four main areas of concern: humanitarian access; protection against the threat posed by weapons; protection and inclusion of the most vulnerable; and freedom of movement for populations affected by crises.

Disability-inclusive development

Including people with disabilities in global development policy frameworks 

Sustainable development will never be possible without the inclusion of people with disabilities. Discriminatory policies and barriers put all people with disabilities at risk of poverty and exclusion and are harmful to national economies and societies in general. HI aims to make the principle of "Leave no-one behind" a reality for people with disabilities by promoting their rights as part of the implementation of the Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development and by ensuring access to services. As well as holding States accountable on their legal obligations and commitments with regards to the UNCRPD and the SDGs, we are also pushing for data that is disaggregated by disability, gender and age in order to ensure the proper monitoring of progress and to encourage mainstreaming and specific actions to further improve the inclusion of people with disabilities. 


Disability-inclusive education in developing countries 


1 in 20 children under 14 years old has a disability worldwide. Children with disabilities have an equal right to an inclusive, quality and free primary and secondary education. However, they are 10 times less likely to attend school than their peers and they are more likely to drop out than any other group of children. They often do not have the opportunity to learn even the basics, and few are able to make the transition into higher levels of education and training.


HI teams witness this injustice in the 27 countries where we develop inclusive education projects. Our organisation adopts a twin-track approach to address the individual needs of children with disabilities at the same time as economic, social, political barriers to education. We call for a systemic multisectoral approach to address the multiple aspects that hinder access to and progress in school


Access to rehabilitation services for people with disabilities 

15% of the world’s population lives with some form of disability. 92% of the global disease burden is related to causes that require care provision from health professionals combined with physical rehabilitation. However, more than 50% of people with disabilities in developing countries have an unmet need for rehabilitation care, due to financial, attitudinal and physical barriers hindering access to health services, and a lack of availability of services, accessible information and skilled health workers. 

HI is pressing for rehabilitation services to be given a higher priority on the global health and development agenda, and advocacting for universal access to rehabilitation services, which means life-long rehabilitation services across the continuum of care, and for a wide range of health conditions.

Inclusive development policies and support for civil society to promote the civic participation of people with disabilities

HI develops approaches to promote the civic participation of people with disabilities in order to fully and effectively implement the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

HI thus works to promote the inclusive governance of disability issues and the full participation of people with disabilities in decisions that concern them. Our action aims to: 

Build the institutional and advocacy capacities of organisations of people with disabilities

to increase their participation in development and governance processes, from local to international levels

Support organisations of people with disabilities

to structure themselves and set up good governance mechanisms which strengthen their legitimacy to represent the diversity of people with disabilities (types of disabilities, women with disabilities, people with disabilities living in rural areas, etc.)

Support organisations of people with disabilities to fight against all forms of discriminations

towards persons with disabilities, including women and girls with disabilities, and promote the political participation of people with disabilities, including through access to elections, justice, and civic life.


Disarmament and protection of civilians


The use of explosive weapons with wide-area effects in populated areas

Bombing and shelling are methods of warfare currently used by belligerents in the ongoing conflicts in Syria and Yemen, and were previously used in both Afghanistan and Ukraine, for example. Explosive weapons such as aircraft bombs, mortars, missiles, rockets and so on are often used in populated areas, with dire consequences for civilians who are the main victims of these weapons. Since 2011, HI has been inciting the international community to put an end to the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, highlighting the devastating consequences for civilians and vulnerable populations, specifically people with disabilities, elderly people, women and children. We have launched a global campaign to stop the bombing of civilians targeting the general public and the media, and, in September 2015, a dozen states launched an initiative to draw up a political declaration to prevent the harm caused by explosive weapons.

Universalizing and implementing the disarmament treaties


In keeping with its long-standing commitment, HI is continuing the fight against landmines and cluster munitions. HI is a co-founder and key actor in the ICBL-CMC and remains committed to the goal of a “mine-free world” by 2025 and ensuring the universalization and implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty and the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
HI has also made its voice heard loud and clear on the issue of victim assistance (VA), an obligation for States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty and the Convention on Cluster Munitions. HI promotes an integrated approach to victim assistance, to ensure that people with disabilities, including the victims of weapons, meaningfully and effectively participate in development processes and policies. 



Contact us



Humanitarian Advocacy Manager



Valentina POMATTO
Inclusive Development Advocacy Officer



Disarmament & Protection of Civilians Advocacy Manager



Marc-André PELTZER
Inclusive Governance Manager


Photos : ? HI - ? B. Darrieux / HI

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