An Electoral Risk Management Tool (ERMT) that would enhance early warning and prevention capacity of electoral practitioners and other agencies involved in electoral processes is to be operational by 2013.
The tool is designed by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) in collaboration with the African Union (AU).
The tool has been tested in several countries though development is still ongoing. It will help to identify risky areas in election management and find solutions to possible risks.
Dr Muna Abdella, Head of IDEA to the AU said at a workshop to discuss experiences and ways-forward conducted at the Hilton Addis, that the major goal of the project is to improve the capacity of designated election management bodies (EMBs) to learn about and understand different factors that can trigger election-related conflict and violence.
She said the tool will also provide EMBs with the capacity for analysis and identification of factors which may be relevant in a given country’s context.
The tool which will be in use by late next year can be used to record relevant information for further use as it would also be used as a back-up, according to D.M. Dissanakayake, a participant at the workshop from Sri Lanka. “It is compatible with any political, economic and social context and can be customized accordingly.”
Use of the tool requires the interest and commitment of election management bodies. They can sign an agreement to use the tool, the participant from Sri Lanka noted. However, Muna is hopeful that all election management bodies, including those in Ethiopia, will accept the tool. “The tool will enable them to understand the possible risk of violence in a certain area. All countries and election management bodies have an equal interest in mitigating conflict,” she said. “We presume all of them will adopt the tool ” she added.
“ERMT furthermore provides instruments for gathering and analysing relevant data, e.g. in relation to the form and impact of electoral violence on women and minority groups. It will assist in informed decision making and inform possible courses of action that may be appropriate in responding to identified threats” Muna said.
The tool is integrated into a software application that will provide three interactive modules which can be used in combination or as standalone resources. To facilitate the tool’s global relevance and applicability, each module is designed to be customisable and allows users to focus on what is relevant in a given country and electoral context.
In 2009 IDEA initiated the Elections and Conflict Project with the aim of producing an Electoral Risk Management Tool that details how deficiencies in the electoral process combined with structural conflicts can spark election-related violence. In particular the objective was to develop a tool that enhances the early warning and prevention capacity of electoral practitioners and other agencies involved in electoral processes.
International IDEA – Through International IDEA HQ, Africa Program Office and the Field Office in Addis Ababa – and AU Democracy and Electoral Assistance Unit (DEAU) are cooperating in order to enhance Africa’s continental and national capacities for prevention and mitigation of election-related violence. IDEA’s tool is at the stage where the two organizations would benefit from implementing a joint pilot program in Africa.
“IDEA has made a strategic decision to engage and contribute to the strengthening of global capacities for prevention and mitigation of election-related violence” Muna said.
As for the AU’s part she indicated that the Democracy and Electoral Assistance Unit of the African Union will identify African countries in which the project will be implemented (considerations will include donor’s preferences in regards to the African region or country where the project will be implemented, sufficient time for project implementation, receptiveness and the capacity of the national EMB to implement the project); will coordinate and facilitate project implementation with the national EMB and other relevant actors; provide support in implementation of specific project activities at the country level; and assist in fundraising for the project.