Two U.N. Special Rapporteurs Call on the AIIB to Promote and Protect the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

“The AIIB has the potential to make an important contribution to the realization of economic, social and cultural rights and the right to development of persons with disabilities, as well as to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (Agenda 2030), in particular, SDG 1 (ending poverty), 10 (reduction of inequalities), and 11 (sustainable cities and communities).”

The U.N. Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, Catalina Devandas-Aguilar, and the U.N. Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, recently sent a letter that encourages AIIB President Jin Liqun to strengthen safeguards across the AIIB to better promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities.

“As the AIIB moves towards a more inclusive model of sustainable development, it must ensure that a disability perspective is systematically integrated into all its operations, addressing project risks and impacts on persons with disabilities and including benefits to extend to this population.”

The Special Rapporteurs emphasize that the 2019 review of the AIIB’s ESF “is a significant opportunity to emphasize the implementation of the disability perspective at the AIIB, improve its internal due diligence practices and establish its reputation as a social and human rights responsible development bank.”

The letter urges the Bank to:

  • Explicitly recognize the importance of the disability perspective in the ESF;
  • Mainstream disability inclusion throughout the entire cycle of projects, including in the design, planning, and implementation processes;
  • Guarantee accessible information for persons with disabilities in all projects;
  • Consult with and actively involve affected persons with disabilities in the development and implementation of projects of their concern, in an accessible and inclusive way;
  • Identify affected persons with disabilities, including disaggregated data about this population in the project area, and assess potential project risks and impact on persons with disabilities and how they will be mitigated;
  • Specifically mention in the ESF that the benefits generated by projects are extended to persons with disabilities, not only referring to “vulnerable groups”;
  • Produce mandatory guidance for staff and clients on the disability inclusion of AIIB's ESF and AIIB-financed projects, and develop capacity-building with the AIIB staff on this topic;
  • Reinforce the principle of universal design in all projects to ensure the full and equal participation by all persons, including those with disabilities; and
  • Implement an audit of the accessibility of project construction sites, and incorporate an accessible system for grievance redress, including the accessibility of information about the mechanism and its procedures.

As of June 24, 2019, the Special Rapporteurs have not received a reply to their letter.