On 23 – 24 January, 2019, the United Nations Electoral Assistance Division (UN EAD) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Bureau for Policy and Programme Support (BPPS) organized a two-day BRIDGE showcase on the topics: (i) Electoral Access and (ii) Media and Elections. The showcase which took place at the UN Secretariat building in New York was another step in UN EAD and UNDP providing an avenue to staff members from the UN Secretariat, agencies, funds and programs to discuss key electoral issues and familiarize with the BRIDGE methodology. 27 participants (19 women and 8 men) attended the workshop, comprising staff from the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA), Department of Peace Operations (DPO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO), UN Democracy Fund (UNDEF), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). There was very high interest from staff across the UN system to attend the showcase, which underscores the need for such thematic trainings, particularly in a subject of relevance like elections.
The main objectives of the showcase were the following:
Mr. Patrick Keuleers, Director, Governance and Peacebuilding, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP, in his opening remarks emphasized the utility of BRIDGE as a professional development programme in the field of elections and how it has been used in multiple countries, across the world. He encouraged participants to take advantage of the opportunity to share their diverse experiences on the subjects. As an introduction, participants were given an overview of BRIDGE and the UN electoral assistance framework. On the electoral access module, the following sessions were covered: access and political rights: introduction to access; understanding groups with access issues: prejudice; understanding electoral rights and our commitments: national law and ICCPR and understanding groups with access issues–observer scenarios. The module on media and elections focused on the following sessions: introduction to the media and the electoral cycle; the EMB – media relationship: media as a watchdog for public interest; the EMB – media relationship: election rumours; the EMB – media relationship: fake news; legal and institutional frameworks- dealing with defamation; legal and institutional frameworks- regulatory bodies; and strategic communications. The training was highly interactive, and participants shared experiences on the subjects from their respective field of work. The facilitators received many positive feedbacks after the training, in which participant appreciated the BRIDGE methodology, the content on the topics discussed and also the opportunity to exchange views and experiences with staff from other parts of the UN system. Herbert Loret of the UN Department of Peace Operations, gave the following feedback, which summed up the response from participants:
“…it should have been mandatory for all members of the Inter-Agency Coordination Mechanism for Electoral Assistance (ICMEA) [for] (team building!). Congratulations to all of you, it was super interesting and very well managed, I think all the participants were pleased”.
The team of facilitators included:
Aleida Ferreyra – Accrediting Facilitator
Risa Arai – Facilitator
Hassan Kelleh Sesay – Facilitator