IFES Leads Side-Event at UN CRPD Conference of States Parties
The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) served as an observer to the 7th Conference of States Parties to the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities from June 10-12, 2014 at UN Headquarters in New York City. As a consultative member of the UN Economic and Social Council, IFES has the ability to observe deliberations by the member states on implementation of the disability treaty as well as to host side events open to states and civil society.
IFES Vice President of Programs Michael Svetlik moderated a side event on political participation of persons with disabilities. The event was opened by Craig Jenness, Director of the UN Electoral Assistance Division, who noted that “a more inclusive world is a better world for all of us.”
Panelists included IFES Access and Inclusion Specialist Virginia Atkinson, who spoke about IFES’ recent publication Equal Access: How to Include Persons with Disabilities in Elections and Political Processes, and Risna Utami, Disability Rights Advisor to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations General Election Network for Disability Access (AGENDA). Risna highlighted past activities of the AGENDA project, such as a research report that outlined barriers encountered by persons with disabilities across the region, as well as future plans, such as training people with disabilities to observe the July elections in Indonesia. Charlotte McClain-Nhlapo, Disability Inclusive Development Coordinator at USAID, stressed the continuing need for capacity building of electoral officials on disability rights as well as the need to partner with national human rights institutions in order to ensure enforcement of disability rights legislation. Representatives from the UN Development Programme and the National Democratic Institute also shared steps their organizations are taking to make the political process more accessible.