To ‘Promote, Protect and Ensure’: Overcoming Obstacles to Identifying Disability in Forced Migration

Journal of Refugee Studies, Vol. 28, No. 1, pp. 38-68, 2015

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 14/64

29 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2014 Last revised: 25 Mar 2015

See all articles by Laura Smith-Khan

Laura Smith-Khan

University of Technology Sydney, Faculty of Law

Mary Elizabeth Crock

The University of Sydney Law School

Ben Saul

The University of Sydney Law School

Ronald McCallum

The University of Sydney Law School

Date Written: July 14, 2014

Abstract

Every year, millions of people are forcibly displaced as a result of natural or human-made disasters. Although a significant proportion are persons living with a disability, remarkably little is known about the incidence and type of disabilities they experience. To design services that best respect rights and address needs, effective procedures must be devised to identify persons with disabilities in situations of displacement. This article draws on initial findings from research funded by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs, conducted with the cooperation of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in four countries: Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan and Uganda. It examines methods used by UNHCR and its partners for identifying disability in populations of displaced persons. The authors present a tool for the identification of disabilities designed to overcome some of the challenges observed. They argue that to reflect the values enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, identification tools should not focus simply on impairment, using a medical approach or disability labelling. Rather, questions should be asked about functionality and a person’s assistance needs. Proper identification of disability would go some way to ensuring equal access to appropriate assistance and protection for all refugees.

Keywords: Identification, Disability, Refugee, UNHCR, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

JEL Classification: K10, K30

Suggested Citation

Smith-Khan, Laura and Crock, Mary Elizabeth and Saul, Ben and McCallum, Ronald, To ‘Promote, Protect and Ensure’: Overcoming Obstacles to Identifying Disability in Forced Migration (July 14, 2014). Journal of Refugee Studies, Vol. 28, No. 1, pp. 38-68, 2015; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 14/64. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2466202

Laura Smith-Khan (Contact Author)

University of Technology Sydney, Faculty of Law ( email )

Sydney
Australia

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.uts.edu.au/staff/laura.smith-khan

Mary Elizabeth Crock

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

Ben Saul

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

HOME PAGE: http://https://sydney.edu.au/law/about/people/profiles/ben.saul.php

Ronald McCallum

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia
+61 2 9351 0252 (Phone)

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