COSP16: Placing disability at ‘the heart’ of recovery plans in Ukraine Lessons from a year of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

13 June 2023

Side event to the 16th session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

13 June, 9:45 am – 11 am, UN HQ Conference Room 11

The ongoing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has disproportionately impacted persons with disabilities, who face significant challenges in accessing basic services, information, protection and humanitarian assistance. Before the Russian full-scale invasion started on the 24 February 2022, around 2.7 million people in Ukraine were recorded to be living with a disability. Ukraine has one of the highest rates of institutionalization of children and adults with disabilities in Europe.

The United Nations Partnership on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Multi-Partner Trust Fund (UNPRPD MPTF) with additional funding from Finland has funded a national joint programme in Ukraine to support mainstreaming disability in the humanitarian response, continuity of services for persons with disabilities affected by the war, alongside building the capacity of organizations of persons with disabilities. In addition, the UNPRPD has launched a multi country initiative in Georgia and Moldova to support Ukrainian refugees with disabilities.

Building on these efforts, the event will focus on the journey from resilience to recovery for persons with disabilities in Ukraine. It will explore the immediate needs of persons with disabilities in conflict-affected areas, showcasing the ways in which organizations of persons with disabilities can be supported in driving and supporting recovery plans.

Speakers will share important lessons on disability inclusion and ongoing challenges faced by persons with disabilities learned from the Russian aggression against Ukraine. The side event aims to contribute to building a more inclusive future for all.


This side event aims to bring together multiple stakeholders from UN, governments, organisations of persons with disabilities (OPD) to share learnings on what works and what can be enhanced to address the rights and needs of persons with disabilities in the context of the crisis in Ukraine. These reflections will be based on the experience from UNPRPD joint programmes in both Ukraine and neighboring countries (Georgia and Moldova).

The discussion will also focus on what needs to be in place to ensure a more systematic approach to address the rights and needs of persons with disabilities in current discussions around recovery and reforms to accelerate CRPD implementation and the adoption of a rights-based model of disability to ensure inclusive and accessible policies, programs and services, including the shift to community and family care based services.

Specific attention will be given to:

  • Government’s capacity to deliver inclusive services and adopt a human rights-based and disability inclusive approach to recovery plans to accelerate the CRPD implementation.
  • Technical and financial capacity building of OPDs, including most marginalized groups of persons with disabilities, for their systematic meaningful engagement in humanitarian response and development programmes and planning.
  • Coordination and complementarity with humanitarian response to achieve long term impact and seize long term system change opportunities.


  • The event will include opening remarks from distinguished speakers, and presentations from partners with practical country examples.
  • The event will be held in hybrid mode.
  • The session will be held in English only.
  • International Sign Language will be available.

Session Outline

Moderator: Leyla Sharafi, Senior Gender Advisor, UNFPA

Opening remarks

  • Elina Kalkku, Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Finland to the UN
  • Nazar Tanasyshyn, Deputy Minister of Social Policy, Ukraine

Experience from UNPRPD MPTF programmes in Ukraine and neighboring countries

  • Jaco Cilliers, Resident Representative of UNDP Ukraine
  • Satish Mishra, Technical Officer, Disability, Rehabilitation, Palliative and Long-term Care, WHO/Europe

The importance of OPDs participation and their pivotal role

  • Gunta Anca, Vice-President European Disability Forum
  • Irene Fedorovych, Head of advocacy unit, NGO Fight for Right

Looking into early recovery and supporting long term policy changes through coordinated action

  • Ola Abualghaib, Manager Technical Secretariat, UNPRPD Fund

Closing remarks

  • Mitch Fifield, Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Australia to the UN