“An eye-opener” was how one participant described the joint Caribbean Community (CARICOM)-UN BRIDGE workshop and round table discussion on electoral observation held from 7 to 9 March 2016 in Georgetown, Guyana.
The 35 participants included members of the electoral management bodies from the CARICOM region, staff members of the CARICOM Secretariat and representatives from the Organization of American States, the Organization for Islamic Cooperation and the Organization for Security Cooperation in Europe/Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).
This workshop was conducted with the support of the CARICOM Secretariat, the Electoral Assistance Division of the United Nations Department of Political Affairs and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Latin American and Caribbean Office. Opening remarks for the workshop were provided by Ambassador Manorma Soeknandan, the Deputy Secretary-General of CARICOM Secretariat and Ms. Khadija Musa, the UN Resident Coordinator in Guyana.
The workshop and round table discussion provided for the sharing of experiences and good practices among the participants on the conduct of election observation. Issues discussed included the objectives of election observation, international obligations and principles for election observation, observation methodologies and reporting, as well as the latest trends and challenges in the area of election observation and the promotion of women’s participation through election observation.
The level of participation and engagement was quite high throughout. Many noted that although such a workshop was long overdue, it was well worth the wait, as they were very impressed with both the substantive content as well as the BRIDGE methodology. One participant stated that “this workshop endorsed my conviction that in the Caribbean there resides great talent and knowledge which can be shared globally in general and South-South in particular”.
The participants also developed a series of recommendations for improvement of election observation in the CARICOM region and hoped that there would be more workshops of this nature in the future.
The facilitators for the course were Deryck Fritz, UNDP Electoral Consultant, Aleida Ferrreyra, UNDP Electoral Policy Specialist, and Astrid Evrensel, Political Affairs Officer at the United Nations Office to the African Union. The closing remarks were provided by Ambassador Colin Granderson, the Assistant Secretary-General of CARICOM Secretariat and Mr. Tadjoudine Ali-Diabacte, Deputy Director of the Electoral Assistance Division at UN Headquarters.