UN rights chief calls for boosting political participation of persons with disabilities

High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. UN Photo/Violaine Martin

1 March 2012 – The United Nations human rights chief today called for the removal of barriers that prevent the participation of persons with disabilities in political life and public affairs.

High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said that although she was encouraged by the 109 States that have already ratified or acceded to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, much more needs to be done to ensure their rights are respected and enforced.

“Ratification alone is not sufficient to ensure the removal of barriers that continued to hinder the full and effective enjoyment of all civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights by persons with disabilities on an equal basis,” Ms. Pillay told the Human Rights Council in Geneva during its annual discussion on the rights of persons with disabilities.

Since its adoption in 2006, the Convention has been regarded as a landmark document for the political rights of persons with disabilities, with article 29 requiring States to take appropriate steps to promote and enable an environment in which they can run for office, vote, and fully take part in public affairs.

However, a recent study by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) showed that in many countries persons with disabilities continue to encounter a number of legal, physical and communication barriers.

During the meeting, the Council highlighted good practices in the field of participation of persons with disabilities in elections and in the conduct of public affairs, and identified the main challenges that still prevent their equal participation.

Panellists during the meeting included Theresia Degener, Rapporteur of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; J. Patrick Clarke, President of Down Syndrome International; and Shantha Rau Barriga, researcher and advocate on disability rights for Human Rights Watch.


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