International cooperation

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is the first international convention that incorporates a stand-alone provision on international cooperation in a core human rights treaty. Article 32 of the CRPD requires States parties to ensure that all their actions within the framework of international cooperation, including development programmes, are inclusive and accessible to people with disabilities.

With the Millennium Declaration, the right to development is made universal; however, they make no specific reference to disability. These goals can only be achieved if people with disabilities, who are among the poorest, are taken into account. It is crucial for governments, donors, international agencies and civil society to address disability through the implementation of inclusive development strategies, in accordance with article 32.

To enhance inclusion of disability issues in development actions, it is essential that donor States develop and enforce a disability policy within their department in charge of international cooperation. Other stakeholders also play an important role in the implementation and monitoring of the Convention at the international level. At the United Nations level, the Inter-Agency Support Group on Disability has produced recommendations for its implementation by UN country teams, and the Partnership on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has been established recently. At the level of civil society, International Disability Alliance and International Disability and Development Consortium pay special attention to the effective implementation of article 32.

This keylist highlights information about article 32 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the linkages between disability and the Millennium Development Goals. It features the policies of institutional international cooperation stakeholders on disability, the United Nations and World Bank initiatives on disability, and resources on disability inclusion in emergency contexts. We welcome your feedback: please send comments or suggested additions to

Selected resources

Introductory resource

Disability and development

CHERVIN, Philippe
GEISER, Priscille
July 2012

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This online CD-ROM presents general information on disability and development with key messages highlighted at the beginning of each chapter. The seven chapters include the following information: Home (Introduction); Global situation of people with disabilities; Understanding disability; Disability and human rights; Disability and international cooperation policies; Principles of inclusive development; Inclusive development strategies
Each of the six thematic chapters is organized into the following three sections: a presentation of key concepts and essential messages; a section entitled « focus » that enables the expansion of an important aspect of the relevant theme; and an annotated list of further resources. Chapter six specifically includes practical information for the inclusion of disability in development actions

Article 32 of the UN CRPD

Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities and optional protocol

December 2006

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The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities acknowledges their rights to education, health, work and more. It provides a platform for action and activitism on inclusion and equity in countries which ratify and strive to implement it

Mainstreaming disability in the development agenda

November 2007

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This paper considers the background, practicalities, and resources related to mainstreaming disability in the development agenda, in the context of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). It highlights the experiences and lessons learned from mainstreaming gender, HIV and AIDS and disability in development in different countries around the world. It would be a useful resource for people interested in mainstreaming disability in the development agenda using the CRPD

Disability and the MDGs

Disability and the millennium development goals : a review of the MDG process and strategies for inclusion of disability issues in millennium development goal efforts


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This report provides an overview "for why and how disability can and should be included in the planning, monitoring and evaluation of MDG related programmes and policies." This report is useful to people working in disability advocacy, programming and outreach efforts, as well as people those working on MDG-related efforts

Include everybody : disability and the MDGs


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This website presents information about disability and the millennium development goals (MDGs) and highlights the need for inclusion of disability in the current MDGs. It outlines practical steps for action, highlights case studies and provides information about disability issues related to each of the eight MDGs. This website is useful for anyone interested in the inclusion of disability in the MDGs

Keeping the promise : realizing the Millennium Development Goals for persons with disabilities towards 2015 and beyond

July 2010

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This report presents a "comprehensive biennial review on the implementation of the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons, and the progress and challenges concerning the advancement of persons with disabilities in the context of development and the realization of the Millennium Development Goals." It consists of an introduction, five informative sections, and recommendations to advance disability-inclusive Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed development goals by member states and other stakeholders. The detailed annexes provide further technical information in support of the recommendations

The millennium development goals (MDGs) and disability


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This website reviews the millennium development goals (MDGs) process and strategies for inclusion of disability issues in MDG efforts. Useful links are provided to related resources, panel discussions, UN initiatives and other multi-stakeholder and civil society initiatives

Disability inclusion in emergency contexts

Accessibility for all in an emergency context : a guideline to ensure accessibility for temporary infrastructure, WASH facilities, distribution and communication activities for persons with disabilities and other vulnerable persons


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This practical manual provides technical guidelines for physical and communication accessibility to ensure that persons with disabilities can access all emergency facilities. Illustrations with key points are highlighted. These guidelines would be useful for emergency stakeholders who are interested in inclusive accessible designs for emergency facilities

Ageing and disability in humanitarian response : a resource book of inclusive practices

QURESHI, Waqas Ashfaq
June 2011

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This report reviews the contributions of international NGOs, NGOs, Disabled People Organisations and other stakeholders in the disability and ageing sector. Their responses to mainstreaming disability and/or ageing issues in humanitarian response in Pakistan are presented, and general recommendations are provided. This report would be useful to those who work with disabled and older people in disaster situations

Disabilities among refugees and conflict-affected populations

June 2008

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"This report is the culmination of a six-month address the rights and needs of displaced persons with disabilities, with a particular focus on women (including older women), children and youth. Based on field research in five refugee situations, as well as global desk research, the Women’s Commission sought to map existing services for displaced persons with disabilities, identify gaps and good practices and make recommendations on how to improve services, protection and participation for displaced persons with disabilities"

Disability inclusion in drought and food crisis emergency response

et al
July 2011

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"This factsheet provides base level information to practitioners for awareness raising, training, advocacy, project design and proposal writing. The information may be used and sent out widely, with reference to the Kenya Red Cross, The Association of the Physically Disabled of Kenya, CBM and Handicap International. The overall information in this factsheet is also applicable to older persons and other vulnerable groups"

Working with persons with disabilities in forced displacement


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"Refugees with disabilities have specific needs and face particular forms of discrimination. As highlighted in the Executive Committee Conclusion No. 110 (LXI)-2010, it is important for UNHCR to ensure that the rights of persons with disabilities who are of concern to the Office are met without discrimination. This places an onus on offices to develop a thorough understanding of the circumstances of persons with disabilities under their care. This note provides staff with guidance on a range of issues to consider in meeting these responsibilities"

Disability policies of institutional international cooperation stakeholders

Development for all 2015-2020 : strategy for strengthening disability-inclusive development in Australia’s aid program

May 2015

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The objective of Australia’s work in disability-inclusive development is to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities in developing countries by enhancing participation and empowerment of people with disabilities, reducing poverty among people with disabilities and improving equality for people with disabilities in all areas of public life. This strategy document “provides guidance for DFAT’s strategic decision making by articulating key opportunities for strengthening disability-inclusive development where DFAT can make the most difference—addressing the key challenges of disability-inclusive development in the Indo-Pacific, using Australia’s expertise, and aligning our efforts with the priorities of Australia’s aid program. For external stakeholders, this strategy is a non-binding public articulation of the Australian Government’s continued commitment to disability-inclusive development and highlights our approach, principles and priorities”


Development for all : towards a disability-inclusive Australian aid program 2009-2014


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This document outlines practical approaches to guide Australian aid programmes to meet the needs and priorities of people with disabilities. The strategy’s main priorities are to support people with disabilities in improving the quality of their lives, but also to reduce preventable impairments. This strategy is created to guide Australia’s overseas aid program towards development that includes, and deliberately focuses on, people with disabilities
Note: This document is available in large print, audio, and screen-reader compatible formats online; Braille copies can be ordered online

DFID and disability : a mapping of the Department for International Development and disability issues

THOMAS, Philippa
June 2004

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Disability, until very recently, has been largely invisible in the development process. In 2000, DFID broke new ground by advocating a twin track approach of mainstreaming disability issues combined with specific initiatives to address the particular needs of disabled people. This report tracks what DFID is doing on the subject of disability: in programmes, research, training of staff, activities of country offices. The report states that DFID has not lived up to the expectations that were created with the issues paper, however, the agency has gained an international reputation for its rights-based and social exclusion approach to development and it is within this debate that future work on disability should be located

Disability and international cooperation and development : a review of policies and practices

LORD, Janet
et al
May 2010

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This paper reviews the policies and practices of major multilateral and bilateral agencies that include disability in development. The paper provides examples of their programs and highlights five emerging trends of disability in international cooperation and development. This paper is useful for people interested in disability and international cooperation and development
Social Protection Discussion Paper No 1003

Disability brief : identifying and addressing the needs of disabled people


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"The Disability Brief is an introduction to disability issues in development for operational staff and their government counterparts. The brief provides a background on disability and tools for addressing the needs of disabled people, including disability checklists, suggestions for addressing disability in development activities, resources to access knowledge on disability, implementation strategies, and case studies"

Disability framework : leaving no one behind

December 2014

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This framework is intended to consolidate and explain the changes that are happening within DFID to strengthen disability inclusion in their policies and programmes, and outline the actions DFID will take over the next 12 months.  It is aimed at DFID staff

Disability in the European Union


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This website describes the long-term strategy of the EU for the active inclusion of people with disabilities, with links to related resource documents

Disability, poverty and development


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This is a major policy document from DFID, the British government's overseas aid department. It assesses the significance of disability as a key development issue, and its importance in relation to poverty, human rights and the achievement of internationally agreed development targets. It also sets out ways in which development cooperation, including DFID's own work, can help incorporate the rights and needs of disabled people into the mainstream of poverty reduction work and the achievement of human rights. It is useful for disability policy makers, NGOs and disabled people working in advocacy and development

EDF policy paper : development cooperation and disability


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This policy paper advocates that disability and development cooperation should be an integral part of general mainstream development policy in the European Union as a whole and in the policy of the EU's individual member states. It argues that poverty reduction, universal primary education, employment and economic targets will never be met unless disabled people are included. It is useful for lobbyists and policy-makers

Guidance note on disability and development for EU delegations and services

March 2003

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This staff briefing note draws on policy documents from leading European disability organisations to give guidance to EU missions around the world. It uses a social model of disability and focuses on poverty reduction. It advocates a twin-track approach, consisting of both specific projects for disabled people and mainstreaming into all relevant development programmes

Human rights for persons with disabilities : SIDA’s plan for work

et al
October 2009

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"The plan covers the period from July 2009 to December 2012 (3.5 years). The plan includes Sida’s bilateral, global and regional development cooperation, and the organisation’s internal work. The plan includes individual work areas, such as cooperation strategies, training, projects and programmes and studies. The plan also assumes an effort to analyse and work in more detail on a small number of Sida’s decision and work processes in order to gain experience of both method work and operational work that are effective. The aim is for the experience and lessons learnt from Sida’s work on including human rights for persons with disabilities subsequently to be passed on and integrated more widely in Sida’s decision and work processes"

JICA thematic guidelines on disability

March 2009

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These guidelines were compiled to show the direction of JICA’s projects and the points to be noted based on an exploration and analysis of the status quo, trends, approaches, and techniques of assistance for persons with disabilities

Label us able : proactive evaluation of Finnish development co-operation in disability issues


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The Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs evaluates with this report its development policies for disabled people. This report looks at the last ten years of Finnish development co-operation and how a maximum impact on human rights and social development can be achieved.
The four parts of the report investigate the main Finnish policies, the major findings and how disability can be mainstreamed into development issues.
This evaluation report is valuable for international NGOs, disabled people's organisations and policy advisors who are looking for ways to mainstream disability

United Nations and World Bank initiatives on disability

Disability awareness


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This website presents a collection of teacher resources that addresses disability awareness. The units highlight the story of a teenager named Nodira who shares her experience living with a disability. The lesson plans, videos, multimedia and stories in this collection illustrate the challenges of children with disabilities face, as well as how children are being supported

Making inclusion operational : legal and institutional resources for World Bank staff on the inclusion of disability issues in investment projects

GUERNSEY, Katherine
NINIO, Alberto
September 2006

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This paper aims to support World Bank staff to mainstream disability issues in their work. The intention is to promote the inclusion of disabled people in all aspects of a project cycle, from design, to implementation, monitoring and evaluation. In particular, the paper provides a practical checklist to address specific actions that promote inclusive development. The paper would be a useful tool for any practitioners working in the field of development

Monitoring child disability in developing countries : results from the multiple indicator cluster surveys


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Using the ten question screen for children with disability in the multiple indicator cluster survey (MICS) in 20 countries, this report aims "to raise awareness and thereby both prevent new cases of child disability when that is possible and ensure protection and inclusion for children with disabilities. The findings presented in this publication provide decision-makers with basic information from a number of diverse countries that can be used to determine priorities related to child disability, including the prevention of childhood disabilities, the early detection of disorders leading to disability, and the timely provision of medical-rehabilitation services and comprehensive support to families with children with disabilities"

Promoting the rights of children with disabilities

October 2007

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This report provides a global perspective on the situation of over 200 million children living with disabilities. It focuses upon two conventions, the Convention on the Rights of Child (CRC) and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD), presenting relevant facts and figures based upon reports from countries across regions, from a wide range of sources. Related issues about disability and inclusion, children's rights and the importance of a supportive environment for children with disabilities are discussed in detail. This report would be useful for people interested the rights of children with disabilities

Working with persons with disabilities in forced displacement


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"Refugees with disabilities have specific needs and face particular forms of discrimination. As highlighted in the Executive Committee Conclusion No. 110 (LXI)-2010, it is important for UNHCR to ensure that the rights of persons with disabilities who are of concern to the Office are met without discrimination. This places an onus on offices to develop a thorough understanding of the circumstances of persons with disabilities under their care. This note provides staff with guidance on a range of issues to consider in meeting these responsibilities"