News and Updates

IFES Applauds Establishment of Office of International Disability Rights


A permanent Office of International Disability Rights at the U.S. Department of State with high-ranking leadership to promote the global visibility and human rights of persons with disabilities through U.S. development and diplomacy—a longtime International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) advocacy priority—will finally become a reality.

On Dec. 27, 2021, President Biden signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022, which establishes the office to be led by a senior official reporting to the President or the Secretary of State.

“The Office of International Disability Rights will help leverage American policy and leadership to promote disability inclusive democracies worldwide. This important step forward is particularly timely during the Disability-Inclusive Democracy Year of Action launched last month at the Summit for Democracy. IFES believes disability rights are human rights and that people with disabilities have the right to participate in political life on an equal basis as all other citizens,” said IFES President and CEO Anthony Banbury.

The Office of International Disability Rights will work to ensure that all U.S. foreign operations are accessible to and inclusive of persons with disabilities. The Office will also represent the United States in diplomatic and multilateral forums on the topic of disability and work to raise the profile of disability across a broad range of international development efforts.

Legislation to establish the Office of International Disability Rights was first introduced in the House of Representatives by Representatives Dina Titus (D-NV-1) and Don Young (R-AK) in June 2019. Companion legislation was introduced in the Senate in June 2020 by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Chris Coons (D-DE).

“IFES deeply thanks these members of Congress from both parties for their leadership on disability rights globally,” said Banbury.

IFES provides the U.S. Congress and other bodies with nonpartisan analysis, technical advice and resources on international disability rights, including through events, testimony, briefings and publications. Inclusion and human rights are prioritized under the IFES 2020-24 Strategic Plan: All people safely participate in civic and political life on an equal basis (Strategic Outcome #3).

Stay informed by signing up for IFES updates and learning more about our work to promote the full political participation of persons with disabilities.

Published on January 12, 2022.