UN hails Caricom’s elec­toral pro­cesses as gen­uine

Daily Observer (Jamaica) - - CLOVIS TOON -

GE­ORGE­TOWN, Guyana (CMC) — United Na­tions (UN) Res­i­dent Co­or­di­na­tor (Guyana), Mikiko Tanaka, has com­mended the Caricom (Caribbean Com­mu­nity) re­gion for mak­ing “im­por­tant progress” in the con­duct of pe­ri­odic and gen­uine elec­tions.

She ex­pressed those sen­ti­ments while also laud­ing the im­por­tant role the Caricom Sec­re­tariat has played in con­sol­i­dat­ing demo­cratic pro­cesses through the con­duct of elec­tion ob­ser­va­tion mis­sions.

The UN rep­re­sen­ta­tive said “for sure” there are many les­sons the re­gion can share with the rest of the world. She was at the time speak­ing at the com­mence­ment of the sec­ond Build­ing Re­sources in Democ­racy, Gov­er­nance and Elec­tions (BRIDGE) Work­shop on Elec­toral Ob­ser­va­tion and Round Ta­ble Dis­cus­sion on Gen­der and Elec­tions, which be­gan on Mon­day.

Par­tic­i­pants of the four-day meet­ing in­clude se­nior elec­toral of­fi­cials and ex­perts from Caricom, as well as re­gional or­gan­i­sa­tions, in­clud­ing the Or­gan­i­sa­tion of Amer­i­can States, the Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Se­cu­rity and Co­op­er­a­tion in Europe, the African Union, and the Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Is­lamic Co­op­er­a­tion. It is be­ing fa­cil­i­tated through the col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­forts of the Caricom Sec­re­tariat, the United Na­tions De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme (UNDP), and the UN Elec­toral As­sis­tance Di­vi­sion.

Tanaka said Caricom Elec­tion Ob­ser­va­tion Mis­sions have as­sisted mem­ber states not only in pro­mot­ing trans­parency and in­creas­ing pub­lic con­fi­dence in elec­toral pro­cesses, but also in me­di­a­tion and good of­fice sup­port to con­tentious elec­toral is­sues when nec­es­sary.

It was crit­i­cal to take all nec­es­sary steps to main­tain and strengthen con­fi­dence in in­ter­na­tional elec­toral sup­port and elec­tion ob­ser­va­tion, she added, not­ing that im­par­tial­ity, pro­fes­sion­al­ism and in­tegrity were key guid­ing prin­ci­ples in build­ing that con­fi­dence.

The in­creas­ing role of civil society and do­mes­tic ob­servers in safe­guard­ing gen­uine elec­tions and in en­hanc­ing the cred­i­bil­ity of elec­toral pro­cesses were also im­por­tant, she said. She also em­pha­sised the need for sup­port­ing women’s po­lit­i­cal par­tic­i­pa­tion, which she said “is of key im­por­tance in en­sur­ing peace­ful and in­clu­sive elec­toral pro­cesses, and more stable and demo­cratic so­ci­eties”.

Ad­viser within the direc­torate of For­eign and Com­mu­nity Re­la­tions, Va­lerie Al­leyne Odle, in her re­marks on be­half of Am­bas­sador Colin Gran­der­son, as­sis­tant sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the direc­torate, noted that the Sec­re­tariat ac­knowl­edges the im­por­tant role of women in all as­pects of the elec­tion process, in­clud­ing their par­tic­i­pa­tion in ob­ser­va­tion.

This has been demon­strated by the 116 women out of 315 of­fi­cials who have been a part of the 47 Caricom Elec­tion Ob­ser­va­tion Mis­sions un­der­taken to date. Thir­teen of them held the po­si­tions of chief and deputy chief of mis­sion, she in­formed.

She said elec­tion ob­ser­va­tion was viewed as an es­sen­tial el­e­ment of Caricom’s ef­fort to pro­mote and main­tain its demo­cratic and good gov­er­nance val­ues. The mis­sions’ rec­om­men­da­tions, when im­ple­mented, were use­ful in build­ing the ca­pac­ity of elec­toral of­fices, she added.

Caricom Elec­toral Ob­ser­va­tion Mis­sions be­gan in 2000 to Suri­name and Haiti. Mis­sions are usu­ally fielded at the re­quest of mem­ber states and as­so­ciate mem­bers, how­ever, in April 2017, the com­mu­nity fielded an ob­ser­va­tion mis­sion to Cu­ra­cao, a can­di­date for as­so­ciate mem­ber­ship.

Odle said, though small in terms of size, Caricom Ob­server Mis­sions have com­prised “ex­tremely qual­i­fied and ex­pe­ri­enced” mem­bers drawn from the cadre of chief elec­tion of­fi­cers or elec­tion com­mis­sions within mem­ber states.

More sig­nif­i­cantly, she added, mem­bers of the team are fa­mil­iar with the po­lit­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment of the Caribbean, its tra­di­tions, cul­ture, and char­ac­ter­is­tics. That im­mer­sion has placed them in an ad­van­ta­geous po­si­tion to mon­i­tor and eval­u­ate elec­toral pro­cesses to en­sure con­form­ity with both do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional stan­dards, the di­rec­tor said.

But in spite of those at­tri­bu­tions, she said Caricom is com­mit­ted to en­hanc­ing the ca­pac­ity of spe­cial­ists in the field, hence the con­ven­ing of the work­shop, which is be­ing fa­cil­i­tated by the in­ter­na­tional co-co­or­di­na­tor of the BRIDGE project, Ross At­trill, and Aleida Fer­reyra, elec­toral pol­icy spe­cial­ist of BRIDGE/UNDP.

The Caricom Sec­re­tariat build­ing in Guyana.

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