Senior officials from a selected number of election management bodies in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean will meet next week in Durban, South Africa, for a one-week training to explore ways of preventing, managing and resolving election-related disputes.
The training programme, beginning 24 February and organised by The Commonwealth, will be conducted jointly with the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD), a South Africa-based civil society organisation.
“We must invest in the peaceful settlement of disputes, as the alternative has proven too costly,” Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said Friday in a statement.
Nita Yawanarajah, Head of the Good Offices of the Commonwealth Secretary-General, said that election management bodies are critical in the electoral process and should be considered the first line of defence “to nip election-related disputes in the bud”.
“Election management bodies are at the heart of the electoral process, and their close interaction with almost all the key stakeholders - from voters to candidates, civil society and political party structures - make them key institutions with the potential to help prevent election related conflicts,” Yawanarajah added.
The training is expected to cover topics such as analysing election-related disputes, current and future trends in conflict, the role of the media in the electoral process and negotiation and mediation principles skills building.
The training in Durban is part of a series of such events in the Commonwealth to build the capacity of key institutions at the national level to prevent and manage disputes themselves.