World’s biggest election conference to debate emerging challenges in the electoral process

Oct 14, 2013

Seoul—The United Nations Development Programme and the National Elections Commission of the Republic of Korea will co-host the largest forum on electoral matters in the world from 15 to 17 October in Seoul. Threats to electoral integrity, cost-effectiveness in electoral processes, and professional training of election officials will top the agenda of this important global event.

The Sixth Global Elections Organization Conference (GEO2013) will bring together more than 300 election and democracy professionals representing national electoral management bodies, international electoral experts, academics and members of donor communities, and civil society networks.

The theme of this year’s conference is 'Sustainable Electoral Processes, Strengthened Democracy', and it will provide an opportunity to examine new ideas in the management of elections.

“Electoral authorities must administer electoral processes honestly, fairly and transparently, and earn the trust of participants. Citizens, men and women, must have trust that this outcome does indeed reflect their will,” says Magdy Martínez-Solimán, UNDP Deputy Director of the Bureau of Development Policy.

“But the responsibility for peaceful and credible elections also rests with political leaders and candidates. Their commitment to peaceful conduct and to play by the rules largely defines the actions and attitudes of their supporters,” adds Mr. Martínez-Solimán.

This will be the first time that GEO will be held in Asia, which is home to two-thirds of the world’s population and its economies are increasingly becoming the engines of world economic growth. At the same time, more countries than ever before in Asia have elections at the national and local levels.

Although the UN has been supporting the previous five GEO Conferences since the inaugural one in 1999 in Ottawa, Canada, this is the first time that the UN, through UNDP, takes on the role as co-facilitator of the Conference. This historic position reflects UNDP’s increasing role as the largest provider of international electoral assistance in the world. The number of UNDP supported countries has increased from 28 in 2004 to 62 in 2013 and UNDP supports an election somewhere in the world, on average, every two weeks.

A recent independent evaluation of UNDP found that UNDP assistance had been instrumental to the holding of credible elections in complex post-conflict environments and sensitive political transitions; that its contribution resulted in more professional electoral management, more inclusive processes, and more credible elections than would have been the case without its assistance. In line with this it recognized that UNDP support has also been influential in increasing voter turnout for women and marginalized groups, as well as increasing the number of elected female officials.

Participants at GEO2013 will share experiences and debate how to overcome threats to electoral integrity including preventing fraud and manipulation, mitigating electoral violence and ensuring an inclusive electoral process. Participants will also explore the training and professional development challenges that electoral management bodies face in their day-to-day work. Finally, they will discuss the costs of sustainable democratic elections, with particular attention to elections in democracies emerging from armed conflict.


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