Disability Rights and Elections: Building Resources in Democracy, Governance, and Elections (BRIDGE) training module showcase

19 March 2024

Korea (Republic of)

The third Summit for Democracy was held in Seoul, Republic of Korea, from 18-20 March 2024, with a primary focus on fostering democracy for future generations. Around 300 delegates including government officials, representatives from international organisations, academia, and civil society, gathered to discuss policy enhancements and strategic pathways to strengthen democracy internationally.  

The first Summit was led by the US Government in 2021 to set an affirmative agenda for democratic renewal. As a result, 16 Democracy Cohorts were established to progress commitments under critical topics identified through the Summit. The Government of Australia and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) lead the Disability Rights Cohort.

Australia is committed to supporting democracy and good governance globally. As a respected electoral management body, the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) represents Australia’s commitment to democratic norms and practices. The Summit provided an opportunity for the AEC to engage in regional diplomacy, foster relationships with other electoral commissions and share best practices. It offered a platform for the AEC to exchange knowledge and experiences with counterparts from around the world particularly regarding inclusive democracy. At the request of DFAT, the AEC was pleased to attend the Summit for Democracy which reinforces Australia’s dedication to democratic principles and strengthens international cooperation in safeguarding free and fair elections.

To highlight this issue, IFES and the AEC conducted a showcase of the BRIDGE Disability Rights and Elections module on the second day of the 2024 Summit. Approximately 20 people attended the session, including university students, disability rights advocates and government officials.   

In the session, participants were introduced to the BRIDGE program and its interactive learning format. With reference to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, attendees learnt about reasonable accommodations in the context of voting. They also discussed how to include people with disabilities in aspects of the electoral cycle, including as voters, candidates, poll workers and election observers. The session focused on young people with disabilities and explored how to mitigate the unique barriers they experience as a result of ableism and ageism. 

The work of IFES and the Australian Government through the Disability Rights Cohort is an important contribution to global discussions on voter accessibility, representation, and ensuring that democratic institutions serve all citizens. Alongside this partnership, the AEC and IFES have a long-standing relationship as two of the five BRIDGE partners. Both organisations look forward to continuing to work together to deliver and promote BRIDGE in future.  

Anna Kirk
Face to face workshop
Audience(s) for this workshop:
Civil Society Organisation, Government
Modules used at this workshop:
Disability Rights and Elections
Expected Outcomes:
To develop a support network for stakeholders in electoral processes