As part of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Civil Society Conference/ASEAN People’s Forum (ACSC/APF), the General Election Network for Disability Access (AGENDA) organized a thematic workshop titled “A More Inclusive ASEAN Community: Upholding the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to Participate in Public Life” on 4 August 2016.
AGENDA’s thematic workshop was led by representatives from four Southeast Asian countries (Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar and Timor-Leste), highlighting their experiences and best practices of upholding the rights of persons with disabilities to participate as full and equal citizens in their country. The workshop strengthened cooperation and information-sharing between Southeast Asian civil society members and provided examples of progress that civil society organizations can replicate across the region. The workshop was attended by 35 people from six ASEAN countries (Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao, Myanmar, Philippines and Vietnam) and Timor-Leste.
In April this year, the tenth ASEAN country ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, making this the first ACSC/APF at which the complete ASEAN community showed its commitment through international treaties to ensuring that persons with disabilities can fully participate in political public life.
Disabled people’s organizations (DPOs) from Southeast Asian countries are working together to protect the rights of persons with disabilities throughout the region. These DPOs are making progress as a group at national and regional levels through solidarity and group advocacy. This South-South cooperation has grown to include stakeholders and responsible officials exchanging valuable experience on policy challenges and innovation.