NORDEM Election Forum 2015: Election related violence
“NORDEM observers have taken part in election observer missions for more than 20 years. This event proved a productive meeting place between international experts on election observation and election assistance and our experienced observers to develop methodology on election related violence," says the director of NORDEM, Marianne Kvan, on concluding the NORDEM Election Forum 2015.
NORDEM Election Forum 2015: Panelists and moderator (Photo: NORDEM 2015)
Almost 70 persons attended the Forum. Among them were election observers, representatives from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Local Government and Modernization and the Norwegian Parliament, and others with a special interest in the topic.
The first section of the forum saw presentations from three prominent speakers: Michael Svetlik, Vice President of Programs of the International Foundation of Electoral Systems (IFES); Hannah Roberts, Deputy Chief Observer of the EU Election Observation Mission to Nigeria in 2015; and Mette Bakken, NORDEM secondee to International IDEAs Africa Programme in Addis Ababa.The session was moderated by Anne Sofie Molandsveen from NORDEM.
Svetlik kicked off the seminar by discussing different definitions of election related violence, what factors may cause violence and how it may affect the election process and the legitimacy of the elections. Roberts shared experiences from the EU election observation mission to Nigeria in 2015. While there were high risks of violence because of underlying causes, the elections turned out to be less violent than expected. Roberts argued that, together with other factors, the international presence and the election observation mission had a conflict mitigating effect. Lastly, Bakken gave a presentation on how international organizations, such as IDEA, can assist Election Management Bodies and other stakeholders in preventing election related violence. She highlighted the electoral cycle approach and the value of using the Electoral Risk Management Tool developed by IDEA.
The presentations set the stage for the second section of the Forum, a workshop about ways to include observation of election related violence in the methodology of Election Observation Missions (EOMs). The participants discussed how STOs and LTOs can observe and identify triggers or root causes that may lead to violence during elections. The discussion was vibrant and productive. Recommendations included shifting the focus and developing tools for election observation missions to increase their knowledge and analysis of triggers of violence, expanding their contact with civil society, especially youth, as a source of information, and also using surveys or perception studies; and observing more of the post-elections phase.
“The problem of election related violence is increasing, and international actors have yet to develop a method for observing such violence. The upcoming EU Handbook on election observation will contain a section on violence, and the recommendations from the experienced Norwegian election observers are of great value,” said Roberts, who led the workshop. NORDEM will share the outcome of the workshop with the EU, the OSCE ODIHR, the Carter Center and other actors in the field.