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Thematic study by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on participation in political and public life by persons with disabilities


Participation in political and public life is a human right as well as an important step in the process of enjoying other human rights. It encompasses the right to vote and the right to be elected. However, it goes beyond formal democratic processes and includes broader participation, such as participation in decision-making on law and policy as well as participation in development and humanitarian assistance.

According to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), States Parties shall guarantee to persons with disabilities political rights and the opportunity to enjoy them on an equal basis with others. States Parties shall undertake to ensure that persons with disabilities can effectively and fully participate in political and public life on an equal basis with others, directly or through freely chosen representatives, including the right and opportunity for persons with disabilities to vote and be elected. This is to be done inter alia by:

  • Ensuring that voting procedures, facilities and materials are appropriate, accessible and easy to understand and use;
  • Protecting the right of persons with disabilities to vote by secret ballot in elections and public referendums without intimidation, and to stand for elections, to effectively hold office and perform all public functions at all levels of government, facilitating the use of assistive and new technologies where appropriate;
  • Guaranteeing the free expression of the will of persons with disabilities as electors and to this end, where necessary, at their request, allowing assistance in voting by a person of their own choice;

The Human Rights Council in its resolution 16/15 requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a thematic study on participation of persons with disabilities in political and public life for consideration at the 19th session of the Council, which took place in March 2012.

The study is available here

OHCHR undertook a connsultation process to gather relevant information as a basis for preparing the study. Official requests were sent to States as well as to civil society organizations, including organizations of persons with disabilities, inter-governmental organizations and national human rights institutions. In addition, OHCHR invited any other individual or organization to contribute to the thematic study through responding to a questionnaire.

Submissions for the thematic study on participation of persons with disabilities in political and public life.