Out of Country Voting - A Sub-Regional Perspective

24 Sep 2013

image OPENING SESSION. FROM RIGHT TO LEFT: MR GEORG CHARPENTIER, DEPUTY SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE SECRETARY GENERAL AND RESIDENT AND HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR OF THE UNITED NATIONS SUPPORT MISSION TO LIBYA; MR NURI AL ABBAR, CHAIRMAN OF THE HIGH NATIONAL ELECTION COMMISSION OF LIBYA (HNEC); MR KHALED ALSAHLY, COMMISSIONER, HNEC; DR IMAD EL SAYEH, DEPUTY CHAIRMAN, HNEC
 
Tripoli, 24 September 2013: The High National Election Commission of Libya with support from the United Nations Electoral Support Team organized a sub-regional forum on out of country voting on 24-25 September 2013, titled “Out of Country Registration and Voting: Global Comparative Experiences for Libya, Tunisia and Egypt.” The forum aimed at facilitating the sharing of lessons and good practices and forge a strong community of North African experts.

The Forum attracted 65 practitioners from all three countries, including 15- and 17-person delegations from Egypt and Tunisia respectively. The strong participation from neighbouring countries is a result of ongoing efforts to facilitate contact between electoral actors across the sub-region, including through regular conferences, study trips, and exchanges.

Mr Nuri Al Abbar, Chairman of the High National Election Commission of Libya (HNEC), opened the event, followed by Libyan Congressperson Omar Abulifa and Mr Georg Charpentier, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General and Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator of the United Nations Support Mission to Libya.

“We hope that the new government extends its hands to its citizens abroad and includes them in building a new, stable state,” observed Deputy Chairman of HNEC, Dr Imad El Sayeh. “Elections are the bridge people move across to achieve this purpose,” he added.

Participants lauded the opportunity to gather on the topic. A representative from the Libyan organization Ajyal Foundation for Development and Human Rights suggested members of civil society who are intent on observing the upcoming electoral process in Libya derive particular benefit from discussion on good practices across the sub-region.

“All three countries are on the verge of drafting new legislation on elections or implementing new legislation, so this event is very timely,” noted Mr Carlos Valenzuela, Chief Technical Advisor for Electoral Support in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. “The event is meant to encourage dialogue between three neighbours that are very different, but that also have a lot to teach and to learn from  each other.”

Practitioners from Egypt and Tunisia, as well as international experts from Mexico, Romania, Spain, Iraq, Thailand, and Belgium delivered comparative experiences during the forum. Members of the UN Electoral Support Team likewise contributed experiences derived from electoral processes around the world.

The programme included introductory sessions on the purposes, principles and models of out of country voting and overviews of individual countries’ experiences. Advanced topics were also on offer, including  the use of technology in OCV; political, logistical and legal aspects to consider in OCV operations in host counties; and means of raising awareness of OCV processes amongst diaspora.

The Forum follows similar initiatives in Egypt and Tunisia. On 9 and 10 December 2012, Egypt hosted a sub-regional forum titled  “Women’s Participation in Post-Revolution Parliamentary Elections,” attended by 24 Libyan participants. On 14 and 15 February 2013, Tunisia likewise hosted a forum on voter registration, “Voter Registration: An International Comparative Perspective for Egypt, Libya and Tunisia,” with the participation of a 20-member Libyan delegation. The next sub-regional event is intended to take place in Egypt and will address the topic of electoral dispute resolution.

UNDP international partners agree to meet the financial costs of the conferences in all three countries and handle the administration of the events, in full consultation and cooperation with the electoral management body of the country. In Libya, the UN Electoral Support Team supported the Forum. The team draws together one-structure resources from UNDP’s Libya Electoral Assistance Project, the UN Support Mission in Libya and the UN Office of Project Services.