Officials from Tunisia, Egypt and Libya Discuss International Standards for Election Management

Apr 9, 2012

Today, key electoral stakeholders and experts from Tunisia, Egypt and Libya have started deliberations in a three-day, regional forum on the principles for independent and sustainable electoral management. The forum brings together representatives of governmental institutions, legislators, former and current commissioners of electoral management bodies, academics, policy specialists, opinion leaders and civil society representatives from the three countries.

The event, held under the title “International Standards for Electoral Management Bodies – Global Comparative Experiences” is taking place at the Marriott Hotel in Cairo, 9-11 April.  The United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Regional Centre in Cairo, its Elections Support Projects in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) Egypt are organizing the event.

“We understand that election management must be sensitive to the unique context of the country where it happens and we respect that electoral reforms are essentially nationally-owned processes that are most successful when they are the product of inclusive consensus-building among national stakeholders,” said Carlos Valenzuela, UNDP Chief Technical Advisor. “Yet, electoral management experiences around the world have produced an accumulated body of technical knowledge that can be informative and beneficial to stakeholders involved in managing elections in their respective countries, especially in periods of political transitions, as we are witnessing in many Arab countries.”

The first day of the forum addressed the need for and roles of independent and permanent electoral management bodies (EMBs); current electoral administration models in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya; and—based on experiences from Costa Rica, India, Mexico and South Africa—procedures established to guarantee independence and impartiality; two of five key principles essential for effective EMBs.

Over the following days, participants in the forum will examine the three other principles of transparency, professionalism and sustainability, through experiences from Costa Rica, Australia, Mexico, South Africa and Yemen; review case studies from Jordan and Hungary; consider the benefits of regional networking among EMBs and debate the relevance of all the experiences presented to the current contexts of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.

“Learning from our experience in successfully implementing elections in Egypt, we believe in establishing a permanent, transparent, and independent entity for governing the whole elections process and to foster innovation for democracy,” said Ashraf Abdelwahab, Acting Minister, Ministry of State for Administrative Development in Egypt. “Technical co-operation and exchanges among EMBs are indeed key factors to ensuring higher levels of credibility for future elections,” said Antonio Spinelli, IFES Country Director in Egypt. “To this effect, this forum provides an important opportunity for networking and cooperation, bringing together a wide array of electoral stakeholders from the region and internationally renowned experts in electoral management from across the world to compare country experiences and debate opportunities for cross-fertilization.”

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