Summit for Democracy: Disability Rights Cohort

Summit for Democracy Disability Rights Cohort Sample Commitments

In December 2021, President Biden held the first of two Summits for Democracy, which brought together leaders from government, civil society, and the private sector “to set forth an affirmative agenda for democratic renewal and to tackle the greatest threats faced by democracies today through collective action.” The U.S. government will co-host the second Summit for Democracy with the governments of Costa Rica, the Netherlands, Republic of Korea, and Republic of Zambia in March 2023.

Cohorts have been formed around key themes to help advance topic areas raised at the first Summit. The Disability Rights Cohort is led by the Government of Australia and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES). One out of every seven people in the world has a disability, yet persons with disabilities remain under-represented in political and public life. Participation of persons with disabilities in government institutions, public policy, and legislation provides the basis for promoting equality in all aspects of society by breaking down social stigmas and increasing accountability. With the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and economic instability all disproportionately impacting persons with disabilities, having a voice in governance is crucial.

Below are sample commitments states can make at the Summit for Democracy to help promote disability inclusion. Some commitments can be implemented at the national level, while other sample commitments relate to Official Development Assistance (ODA). These commitments have been suggested by disability rights and democracy advocates during a series of listening sessions, including at the UN Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Global Action on Disability Network annual meeting. Good practice examples from around the world of disability inclusion in political life can be found on

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Sample Commitment

Relevant Cohort(s)

Codify disability rights, such as by the creation of disability inclusion policies at election management bodies and appointing senior focal points on disability rights


Establish consultative mechanisms between election management bodies, legislatures, and political parties with persons with disabilities and their representative organizations, including through working groups and establishment of MOUs


Conduct training for election management body staff, legislatures, and political parties on disability rights


Produce voter and civic education information in accessible formats such as audio, braille, easy-to-read, large print, sign language, and wordless formats

Elections, Civic Space, Media Freedom

Procure accessible election technology

Elections, Technology

In consultation with disability rights advocates, develop reasonable accommodations, such as tactile ballot guides


Establish mechanisms to facilitate access to elected office for persons with disabilities, such as quotas and/or Access to Elected Office Funds to support reasonable accommodation expenses for candidates with disabilities


Audit existing legal and policy frameworks for disability inclusion

Civic Space, Elections

Align legal frameworks for elections to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Elections, Civic Space

Eliminate legal capacity restrictions on the right to vote


Support organizations of persons with disabilities to monitor elections and political party commitments

Elections, Civic Space

Ensure all government websites and social media communications are accessible to people with disabilities

Technology, Media Freedom

Monitor and remove ableist hate speech online and include prohibitions on its use in political party code of conducts

Elections, Disinformation, Civic Space, Media Freedom

Commit to selecting accessible polling stations where possible and develop a plan for making all polling stations accessible in future

Elections, Youth (polling stations are often in schools)

Consider the unique experiences of persons with disabilities who are also women, young people, LGBTQI+ people, Indigenous Peoples, or ethnic or religious minorities, in the design and delivery of voter and civic education

Elections, Gender, Youth

Ensure intersectional approaches are incorporated into legal and policy reform

Elections, Gender, Youth

Develop civic education courses that are inclusive of and accessible to young persons with disabilities

Elections, Youth, Civic Space

Proactively hire young persons with disabilities in government

Youth, Labor

Identify and respond to impacts of electoral violence, particularly on women with disabilities and Indigenous persons with disabilities

Elections, Gender Equality

Establish mechanisms for inclusion of persons with disabilities in all legal reform initiatives

Civil Space

Include disability rights-based reporting and language guidance in media codes of conduct

Media Freedom

Ensure persons with disabilities are meaningfully engaged on public policy on an equitable basis with others.


Integrate targeted goals and indicators on disability-inclusive democracy and governance into the post-Sustainable Development Goals framework


Promote disability-inclusive access to justice mechanisms


Include persons with disabilities in peacebuilding processes and democratic transitions  


Include political participation of persons with disabilities as a priority in international development strategies

All cohorts – ODA commitment

Measure and report on percentage of ODA spend on disability rights

All cohorts – ODA commitment

Develop a guidance note for Embassy staff globally on meaningful engagement of persons with disabilities in democracy and governance development work and foreign policy

All cohorts – ODA commitment

Create regional and international networks to share good practices and lessons learned on disability inclusive democracy

All cohorts – ODA commitment

Support the implementation of disability-related Summit for Democracy commitments and/or democracy-related Global Disability Summit commitments

All cohorts – ODA commitment