The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) provides in Article 29 for the right of all persons with disabilities to participate in political and public life on an equal basis with others. In particular it requires that voting processes, facilities and materials be accessible to persons with disabilities, and promotes their participation in NGOs and associations concerned with the public and political life of the country, in political parties (including as candidates), and in the formation and membership of Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) at international, national, regional and local levels.

Through exercising these rights, persons with disabilities can assert their freedom to make their own choices and to participate as agents for change. They can have a voice to raise issues that are important to them and seek to make their views known at local, national and international levels, including advocating for disability inclusion across all sectors of national development.

Resources in this section include position papers, case studies and practical guidance on how to support the achievement of this right.

See also: Participation of persons with disabilities, Law and justice

UNESCAP (2018) Building Disability-Inclusive Societies in Asia and the Pacific: Assessing Progress of the Incheon Strategy

The report discusses the situation of people with disabilities in the Asia Pacific region at the half way point of the Incheon Strategy to “Make the Right Real!” The Incheon Strategy cover: poverty reduction, employment generation, political participation, accessibility, social protection, early intervention, education, disaster-risk reduction, improving disability statistics. Key findings: • People with disabilities face extreme poverty & face barriers to employment • Representation & participation of people with disabilities in decision-making remain low • Standards of accessibility vary & are not comprehensive in responding to diverse disabilities • Social protection measures do not adequately cover the needs of people with disabilities • Children with disabilities require additional attention • Women & girls with disabilities experience additional barriers to participation • Inclusion of disability perspectives in disaster risk reduction planning and management remain low

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (2011) Thematic study by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on participation in political and public life by persons with disabilities

This study, which has been developed in consultation with relevant stakeholders, including States, United Nations agencies, the Special Rapporteur on disability of the Commission for Social Development of the Economic and Social Council, civil society organisations, including organisations of persons with disabilities, and national human rights institutions, highlights good practices in the field of participation of persons with disabilities in elections and in the conduct of public affairs, and identifies the main challenges that still prevent or limit the equal and effective participation of persons with disabilities in the political and public life of their countries.

International Disability Alliance (2011) Contribution to the OHCHR thematic study on Article 29 of the CRPD: Participation of persons with disabilities in political and public life

The International Disability Alliance is a global umbrella body of peak organisation DPOs. This paper sets out its members’ joint position on implementation of UNCRPD Article 29, and includes a range of practical recommendations to States and other stakeholders, which donors can use to inform policy and programming responses through development cooperation.

Human Rights Watch (2012) I want to be a citizen just like any other: Barriers to political participation for people with disabilities in Peru

This report documents the legacy of a policy, changed only in October 2011, that arbitrarily denied people with sensory, intellectual, and psychosocial disabilities their right to vote, considering them ’incompetent’ to exercise such a decision. The report identifies barriers that persons with disabilities face when seeking to exercise their political rights, including the difficulty obtaining identity documents essential for voting, and the absence of support mechanisms to help persons with disabilities make voting decisions. These barriers are common to persons with disabilities in many countries.

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Panellists sit in a room in the United Nations with a UN Flag draped behind them. Name signs on the front of the panel indicate they are Ms Y Nigussi, Ms D Mulligan, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (Ms Navi Pillay), Mr L Galligos, the Vice President and Prof R McCallum (Facilitator).

Photo: Nigel Kingston, 2013

On 13 September 2013, the Human Rights Council held a panel discussion on the theme 'Development for All'. The panellists made a number of valuable contributions outlining the importance of disability-inclusive international development. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Navi Pillay, also called for an end to the exclusion of persons with disabilities. Here, two members of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities participate as part of the Panel, including Australia’s representative, Prof. Ron McCallum AO and the UK’s representative, Diane Mulligan OBE. Copyright: CBM/Kingston