Persons with Disabilities in International Humanitarian Law – Paternalism, Protectionism or Rights?
The chapter examines the conceptualization of disability within the general and specific protection framework of international humanitarian law (IHL). It explores disability in relation to prohibitions and restrictions on the means and methods of warfare. The chapter addresses the tension inherent in protective models of IHL and international disability rights and considers whether and how the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) offers a palliative response. IHL recognizes that persons with disabilities have specific needs and are thus entitled to special protection for their benefit in the context of armed conflict. Prisoners of war are a specifically protected group under IHL and, within that category prisoners with disabilities are entitled to special protection. IHL requires that assistance and protection be afforded to the civilian population during armed conflict. Protection within IHL requires some mechanism by which individuals with specific needs and subject to particular harm during armed conflict may be identified.