Electoral processes

Institutionalizing election observation within the Melanesian Spearhead Group

Woman washing her hands

Through advisory services and trainings, International IDEA supported the Melanesian Spearhead Group Secretariat to develop its election observation methodology and procedures to demand accountability from policymakers and electoral management bodies.

Election observation experts have been working with Melanesian Spearhead Group Secretariat (MSGS) staff to institutionalize their election observation methodology and procedures as part of a Memorandum of Understanding between International IDEA and the MSGS. Following a training on international observation missions in late 2019, International IDEA experts provided advice directly to the Melanesian Spearhead Group’s observation mission to the Vanuatu elections in March 2020. This advice resulted in better structured pre-deployment preparations as well as the use of real-time electronic reporting mechanisms, which improved the efficacy of collecting and analysing the observers’ reports. 

Consequently, the MSGS requested International IDEA’s assistance in drafting the ‘MSG Manual for the Conduct of Election Observation in Member Countries’, which was submitted in August 2020. The MSG started observing elections in 2014, but this manual represented the first attempt to adopt a codified observation and reporting procedure. Reflecting on International IDEA’s assistance, George Hoa’au, the acting Director-General of MSGS, wrote, ‘The MSG–IDEA partnership is important with respect to the contributions in which, the MSG would like to make to elections and democracy in our region. As such, the MSG looks forward to learning more from IDEA.’

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Ambassador Yauvoli at the International IDEA office for Asia and the Pacific in Canberra, Australia. Photo: MSGS

Feature photo: On the Election Day (19 March 2020) voters were made to wash their hands before casting ballots in a pollingstation on Malekula Island as a precaution against Covid-19. Health workers are seen working with electionofficials in explaining how the hand washing should be done. Photo credit: MSGS