Senior electoral officials, experts from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and representatives of other regional organisations have gathered in Guyana for a three-day discussion aimed at facilitating the sharing of experiences and good practices on election observation.
About 40 participants from CARICOM member states, CARICOM Secretariat, United Nations (UN), as well as some other regional and intergovernmental organisations are attending this electoral event co-organised by the CARICOM Secretariat and the UN. Hosted on the theme “Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections” (BRIDGE), the workshop opened this morning at the Marriott Hotel in Georgetown.
Delivering remarks were UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Khadija Musa and Deputy Secretary-General, CARICOM Secretariat, Manorma Soeknandan.
In the past 30 years, there has been dramatic increase in the number of countries around the globe which have elected to conduct periodic election. Whilst, this is an encouraging trend, Musa pointed out that at same time, the complexity of the challenges facing elections and election observation has also continued to increase.
“There are for sure many things that we can all learn from the Region and from each other, each of the attendees, regional organisations, member states on how to best conduct elections and elections observation,” Musa observed. According to a report from the Government Information Agency (GINA), she acknowledged the experience of all the participants and the objectives of the event.
It is the responsibility of sovereign states to share periodic and genuine election experiences that reflect the will of their people, Musa pointed out, and when requested, the international community and regional organisations should be willing to step in, to support nationally owned and led efforts for peace, and credible and inclusive elections.
She noted that, “Election observation has proven to be of great help to the effort of member states to conduct transparent, peaceful elections particularly through the impact that such mission can have in public confidence on the electoral process and their results.”
Musa however, pointed out that the opportunity to assist member states through their election also carries with it great responsibility. “Impartiality, professionalism and integrity are key guiding principles in building confidence in international electoral support and election observation, and we need take all the necessary steps to maintain and strengthen this confidence,” she was quoted by GINA as saying.
Meanwhile, Soeknandan in her remarks observed that election observation is an essential element of CARICOM’s efforts to promote and maintain its democratic values, since “it builds the public confidence in the electoral process and assures them that the process is transparent and that the rights of the participants are protected.”
She also noted that the recommendations from the electoral observation team when implemented are useful to electoral offices in reviewing and updating systems, as well as building capacity.
During the 1990s and the early 2000, CARICOM governance support to its member states was in the form of mediating political conflicts and in diffusing politically charged situations before they erupted into violence.
“We can all agree that as a region we have in general come a long way from those days and our political processes are more or less peaceful affairs. Notwithstanding, it was recognised that regular monitoring and evaluation of the electoral process of member states will increase the public’s confidence and give legitimacy to the process,” Soeknandan added.
During the three-day event, issues such as why and how to observe elections, international obligations and principles for election observation, the impact of observation, latest trends and challenges in the area of election observation and how to promote women’s participation through election observation will be discussed..
CARICOM electoral missions began in 2002 and since then more than 20 missions have been mounted.