Yerevan, 03 December 2021 – Today, representatives of state institutions, diplomatic community, civil society organizations, media, as well as persons with disabilities gathered together in Yerevan for a special event on the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities and dedicated to the accessibility of the electoral process.
The event was organized by the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) of Armenia with the support of the Electoral Support Project in Armenia-3 (ESPA-3), funded by the European Union, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Kingdom of Sweden, the Confederation of Switzerland, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the UNDP as implementing partner, and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The event was opened by Tigran Mukuchyan, the CEC Chairman, followed by the welcome speeches of Andrea Wiktorin, EU Ambassador to Armenia, Lynne Tracy, US Ambassador to Armenia, John Gallagher, UK Ambassador to Armenia, Patrik Svensson, Ambassador of Sweden to Armenia, Fukushima Masanori, Ambassador of Japan to Armenia, Nico Schermers, Ambassador of the Netherlands to Armenia, Jelena Milosevic, UN Resident Coordinator a.i. in Armenia, Natia Natsvlishvili, UNDP Resident Representative in Armenia, Aghasi Yesayan, IFES Officer in Charge, and Suren Maghakyan, the President of the “Full Life” NGO.
Event’s participants underscored that inclusiveness of the electoral process is a crucial pillar for its democratic path and, through it, the election of the legitimate authorities representing all layers of the society. Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states every citizen shall have the right and the opportunity, without any of the distinctions and without unreasonable restrictions, to vote and to be elected at genuine elections. And this establishes an obligation for the state to create such opportunities.
The CEC presented a new tool for enhancing the accessibility of the electoral process – an interactive map of the accessible polling stations published on the CEC website, providing comprehensive information on the accessibility of the polling stations for persons with different types of disabilities. The map reflects the data collected as part of the assessment of the accessibility of polling stations implemented by “Agate” Rights Defense Centre for Women with Disabilities NGO as part of “Accessibility and Political Inclusion” project which is funded by the USAID through IFES. The map was developed with the assistance of ESPA-3 and IFES.
During the event, persons with disabilities, as direct beneficiaries, international and national stakeholders had the opportunity to test the accessibility of the polling stations as voters with different types of disabilities.
Persons with disabilities highly emphasized the importance of such events for enhancement of the accessibility of elections and expressed hope that this event will significantly contribute to raising awareness on challenges they face when exercising their electoral rights.
The event is organized with technical assistance from the Electoral Support Project in Armenia 3 (ESPA-3) project funded through a basket fund with contributions from the European Union, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Sweden, the Confederation of Switzerland, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the UNDP as implementing partner.
The event is also made possible thanks to the financial support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under the Strengthening Electoral Processes and Political Accountability in Armenia (SEPPA) project, implemented by the Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening (CEPPS).