Report on participation in political and public life by persons with disabilities

21 December 2011
To the HRC at its 19th session, 1 March 2012


At the request of the Human Rights Council (resolution 16/15) the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights prepared a thematic study on participation of persons with disabilities in political and public life for consideration at the 19th session of the Council in March 2012.


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;

Inputs received

In preparation of the study, OHCHR invited States and relevant stakeholders to present submissions by transmitting a set of questions related to existing legislation, policies and practices regarding participation in political and public life by persons with disabilities. As a result, OHCHR received the responses listed below.

Member States:

Intergovernmental organizations

National human rights institutions

United Nations human rights field presences

NGOs and Civil society organizations