Since 2012 the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (RWI) has supported multi-disciplinary research on disability issues in China in cooperation with Wuhan University’s Public Interest and Development Law Institute (PIDLI) and the Wuhan East-Lake Institute for Social Advancement (EISA). The purpose of this collaboration has been to bring together different stakeholders from academia, disabled people’s organizations and government institutions to formulate a common rights-based research and policy development agenda replacing outdated medical and charity-based understandings of disability. A key result of this cooperation has been the establishment of a network of disability researchers who share the aim of effectively promoting the rights of persons with disabilities through their work in the public sector, civil-society organizations and academic institutions.
While the COVID-19 pandemic impacts on all members of society, persons with disabilities and older persons are disproportionately affected because of the attitudinal, environmental and institutional barriers that are reproduced in times of crises. In light of this, in July 2020 RWI launched a research grant within its disability research network in China to address the rights of persons with disabilities and older persons during the COVID-19 pandemic.