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In an effort to develop the capacity of Iraq’s Independent High Election Commission (IHEC), IFES and the IHEC recently launched a comprehensive program to help IHEC staff gain a deeper understanding of the electoral process and the international standards for genuine and credible elections.

In an effort to develop the capacity of Iraq’s Independent High Election Commission (IHEC), IFES and the IHEC recently launched a comprehensive program to help IHEC staff gain a deeper understanding of the electoral process and the international standards for genuine and credible elections. 

The program consists of custom-tailored BRIDGE—Building Resources in Democracy, Governance, and Elections—sessions. IFES and IHEC initiated this project so that the following is achieved:

1.      Formally accredit the semi-accredited BRIDGE facilitators as workshop-facilitators: A number of IHEC staff already completed the BRIDGE Train the Facilitator course. For these staff members to become fully accredited Workshop Facilitators, they need to facilitate a BRIDGE module as part of a facilitation team under the supervision of an Expert or Accrediting Facilitator. This plan aims to give every one of the semi-accredited facilitators that opportunity.

2.      Provide opportunities for fully accredited Workshop Facilitators to gain experience and be promoted to Accrediting Facilitator level: A number of IHEC staff members have already been accredited as Workshop Facilitators. Although not all the current and new Workshop Facilitators will reach this level during the 6-month period, they will be given the opportunity to gain experience working with various experienced facilitators, and to start towards getting the 150 hours of facilitation behind them.

3.      Provide a customized introduction to the BRIDGE curriculum to IHEC staff at national and governorate level that have not participated in BRIDGE until now. The implementation of BRIDGE in Iraq should start with developing a customized introduction module that most staff should complete. IHEC accredited and semi-accredited facilitators developed this module along with IFES and UN advisors. The costumised introductory module identified the following topics: international standards and best practices for election administration; principles of election administration such as transparency, integrity and impartiality; electoral systems, with a specific focus on electoral systems used in countries in the region such as Palestine, Lebanon, and Jordan, but also in selected countries in the rest of the world; and electoral management design.

From April to early July 2011, IFES is implementing a series of 10 BRIDGE workshops to be conducted for more than 300 IHEC staff members at the national and governorate (provincial) levels. During these workshops, IHEC staff and international specialists will discuss various aspects of elections including: principles of electoral administration, international standards and best practices for elections and different types of electoral systems. 

As part of the introductory BRIDGE workshops, 16 IHEC members are receiving special training from the international BRIDGE facilitators in order to achieve full accreditation as BRIDGE facilitators. These 16 IHEC staff members were also involved in planning the program from its initiation and will rotate as facilitators during the initial 10 workshops. 

Following these initial 10 introductory workshops, IFES and IHEC plan to conduct more specialized BRIDGE courses for staff members. Some of these future workshops will be facilitated by IHEC staff members. 

The training was overwhelming appreciated by the participants who stressed the effectiveness of BRIDGE methodology, curriculum and the performance of the facilitators in their evaluations of the course. The participants also identified the need for more BRIDGE training to cover other important aspects of elections and electoral processes.

Related article from the IHEC website: http://www.ihec-iq.com/ar/news-archive/3321.html

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