Seated fourth from left, Director General of the Melanesian Spearhead Group Secretariat, Ambassador Amena Yauvoli. To his left is the International IDEA Regional Director for Asia and Pacific, Leena Rikkilä Tamang. Photo credit: Avinash Kumar, International IDEA
New network will provide joint trainings, strengthening electoral institutions and processes
International IDEA seized the opportunity to increase our cooperation with the Melanesian Spearhead Group Secretariat (MSGS), an intergovernmental group promoting economic growth and good governance among its member states. Following the signing of a memorandum of understanding between International IDEA and the MSGS in February 2019, several areas of possible cooperation were quickly identified. The two organizations then held several events to improve regional cooperation and knowledge sharing.
The first event, held in September, gathered government officials, political party representatives, electoral management bodies (EMBs), and civil society organizations in Honiara, Solomon Islands to mark the official launch of the MSGS–International IDEA cooperation. This consultation then inspired the MSGS and the Fijian Elections Office to work with International IDEA in organizing a conference for EMBs in all member states. Representatives from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu attended. During the two-day conference participants identified commonalities and differences in electoral practices.
As a direct result of the conference, relationships between the EMBs in the region were strengthened as the Association of Election Management Bodies in Melanesia was formed with the MSGS serving as its secretariat. The association will enable the region’s EMBs to learn from one another and will set up a mechanism for joint trainings, and sharing staff when needed.
This strengthened regional cooperation among EMBs will benefit electoral institutions and processes in the Melanesian region. International IDEA will also have a role to play.
‘International IDEA has immense resources and technical expertise. Our young association would definitely benefit a lot from the technical guidance and resource materials that it can produce.’ — Mohammed Saneem, supervisor of elections, Fiji
With the new association in place, International IDEA began a series of trainings to strengthen the capacity of the MSGS in its election observation mission. In October 2019, the Institute developed a comparative research publication on the various election observation methodologies employed by other regional organizations and international non-governmental organizations. The report was delivered along with a training session at MSGS in Port Vila, Vanuatu on 5–6 November 2019.
‘I wish to extend the training to our members so that they would be able to know and articulate what is important to observe during elections.’ ‘I would like to thank International IDEA for your [forthrightness and] for your willingness [in] coming through with the MoU that we signed in February, which will continue to feature itself prominently in our discourses to strengthen election management in Melanesia through the [MSG] Secretariat. […] All in all, I think the partnership is very strong, very formidable and going forward I would like to continue to build it up.’ — Ambassador Amena Yauvoli, Director General of Melanesian Spearhead Group Secretariat
By establishing a platform for regional cooperation between electoral management bodies in Melanesia, International IDEA supports a practice for joint-learning processes informed by norms, good practices and research in electoral processes.
Read more stories about International IDEA's results in our Annual Outcome Report 2019: Democracy In Action.