As Guyana gears up to head to the polls in three days’ time, the United Nations will be keeping an eye on developments with a focus on political, security and human rights developments during the electoral process.
In a statement on Thursday, UN Country Representative in Guyana, Mikiko Tanaka explained that the organisation would not be monitoring the upcoming polls since election observation is done exceptionally with a specific mandate from the Security Council or General Assembly and includes the deployment of a large team to systematically collect data on the electoral process over a period of time.
“We are, however, closely monitoring political, security and human rights developments in the electoral context. In collaboration with other international partners, the United Nations stands ready to support all stakeholders in fostering an environment conducive to inclusive and peaceful elections,” she added.
Tanaka noted that Guyana has a unique opportunity to establish a more prosperous and sustainable development path for all its citizens, and ensuring credible and peaceful elections is central to the country’s future development.
She posited that this is the time for all stakeholders to demonstrate commitment to democratic principles, processes and institutions and not lose sight of the fact that legitimate elections represent the voice and will of the people.
“I encourage all stakeholders to ensure an enabling environment for the exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association. Promoting a peaceful and calm atmosphere in respect of the rule of law is key for a credible poll. This includes respectful exchanges of partisan ideas without resorting to hateful and inflammatory speech through to the end of the electoral process,” the UN diplomat stated.
According to Tanaka, dignified acceptance of the results by political parties will also help to build confidence and trust in State institutions and create a foundation for cooperation beyond the election.
On this note, she underscored that respect for human rights is an essential element for the holding of peaceful and inclusive elections. This, she added, means that all Guyanese – men, women, persons with disabilities, members of the LGBTI (Lesbian, Gays, Bi-sexual, Transgender and Intersex) community and other minorities – should be able to exercise their full and equal right to participate in the electoral process without facing discrimination or other obstacles.
Moreover, Tanaka noted that the UN System was committed to supporting Guyana in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The salient message of SDG 16 is that there can be no sustainable development without stable, secure and inclusive societies with respect for human rights, rule of law, and effective governance.
SDG 16 calls for further strengthening of institutions of governance, more inclusive and participatory processes as well as renewed commitment to end all forms of violence and insecurity, including gender-based violence.