IFES Hosts Event on Disability Rights at United Nations Headquarters
The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) hosted a side-event during the ninth session of the Conference of States Parties to the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at the UN in New York. As a consultative member of the UN Economic and Social Council, IFES has the ability to observe UN meetings and to lead side events that are open to government and civil society. The panel, “How Regional Collaboration Can Lead to More Effective Implementation of Political Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the 2030 Development Agenda,” emphasized the importance of South-South dialogue and regional knowledge transfer to support political participation by persons with disabilities. There was as focus on Sustainable Development Goal 16 to “promote … accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.”
Senior Access and Inclusion Specialist Virginia Atkinson was a panelist at the event. Atkinson discussed IFES’ work on the regional level in Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Pacific. She emphasized the importance of working with multiple stakeholders, including election officials, observers, political parties and media. Other speakers included Mika Kontiainen, the Director of Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Disability Office; Dr. Rohan Perera, Sri Lankan Ambassador to the UN; Sennarath Attanayake, a Provincial Councilor in Sri Lanka; Setareki Macanawai, CEO of the Pacific Disability Forum; and Mohammed Ali Loutfy, Executive Director of the Arab Forum for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Kontiainen noted that, “elections are a fundamental way for people with disabilities to express their views and shape political outcomes.” Each panelist highlighted good practice examples from their region regarding political empowerment of citizens with disabilities.