Supporting Electoral Access for Persons with Disabilities in Libya

Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Libyan activists gather in Djerba to participate in CEPPS/IFES' Disability Action Plan Roundtable.

In 2015, USAID convened a four-day gathering of representatives from Libyan disabled people's organizations (DPOs), in Djerba, Tunisia, to develop a strategy for increased inclusion and accessibility in Libya's electoral process. The roundtable gathered 25 participants from Libyan DPOs, such as Zaykom Zayna ("We Are As You Are"), the National Libyan Organization for the Development of People with Disabilities, La Taya' Sau ("Do Not Give Up"), and Amal Association for Deaf Persons. In addition, representatives from the Association of Libyan Heroes, an organization of "wounded warriors" from Libya's 2011 revolution, participated. This marked the first time an organization for wounded revolutionaries engaged in electoral access issues.

The roundtable identified barriers persons with disabilities have faced during elections and elaborated the measures and actions needed to overcome these barriers to make elections accessible. Finally, roundtable participants developed an action plan that would assist DPOs in achieving an inclusive electoral process. The roundtable also sought to cement a cooperative relationship between DPOs and Libya's High National Electoral Commission (HNEC) to implement free and fair elections in Libya.

During the roundtable, participants and lecturers engaged in constructive discussions on the role disabled citizen organizations could play at all the stages of the electoral process to advocate and collaborate with institutions to make elections inclusive and accessible. Trainers and participants discussed topics such as international standards on accessible elections, best practices, political rights of persons with disabilities, the electoral cycle, how to sensitize decision makers and society on inclusion and accessibility, and how to monitor participation of persons with disabilities in Libya's elections.

Libya will need the talent and participation of all its citizens if it is to succeed.