The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) is collaborating with disability rights stakeholders in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region to increase visibility of the region’s new disability-inclusive policy document.
On January 29, 2019, IFES and the ASEAN Disability Forum (ADF) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to continue coordinating efforts to increase access to political rights for persons with disabilities in Southeast Asia. IFES, which founded the General Election Network for Disability Access (AGENDA) in 2011, is partnering with disabled people’s organizations (DPOs) and election-focused civil society organizations in six Southeast Asian countries – Cambodia, Indonesia Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. IFES and AGENDA will coordinate with ADF to raise awareness about the ASEAN Enabling Masterplan 2025: Mainstreaming the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The masterplan outlines action points for ASEAN sectoral bodies and member states to ensure meaningful participation of persons with disabilities under the ASEAN Economic, Political-Security and Social Cultural Pillars, elevating disability rights to a core value within the ASEAN Community’s development vision. At the diplomatic and organizational level, disability rights will no longer be siloed in ASEAN’s social-cultural division but now are a priority woven into the programming of other ASEAN divisions, including those working on regional economic development and integration, political security concerns, access to justice, and human rights. To ensure that the masterplan’s recommended actions are prioritized across the organization and among the 10 member states, the plan includes continuous consultation and collaboration with stakeholders and direct reporting channels to ASEAN’s top leadership.
The signing ceremony was attended by ADF Chairman Lim Puay Tiak and IFES Vice President of Programs Michael Svetlik, and representatives from both DPO networks were present.