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Trailblazing electoral risk management

April 29, 2020

Electoral management bodies are increasingly institutionalizing risk management to strengthen their capacity to deliver trusted election results

A global survey of the state of risk management in elections, jointly conducted in 2019 by the Australian Electoral Commission and International IDEA, revealed that the Institute’s work on electoral risk management has had a significant influence on the electoral practices of several electoral management bodies (EMBs). For example, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Namibia, Nepal and Nigeria have either institutionalized risk management processes or have asked for training materials on how to do it.

When this work began in 2009, the Institute’s focus was on the prevention and mitigation of election-related violence. However, we soon realized that our comprehensive risk management method could be more broadly applied.

Testing and piloting of the Electoral Risk Management Tool (ERM Tool) by partner organizations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Kenya and Sri Lanka between 2010 and 2013 proved the point. The tool ensured that risks are not addressed in a silo, but through multi-faceted dialogue and interagency collaboration that promotes information sharing, conflict sensitivity and cost effectiveness.

Since the ERM Tool’s launch in 2013, International IDEA has supported more than 20 EMBs worldwide on its use; most have adopted the tool, including those from Nepal and Nigeria. We have shared over 300 software licences with EMBs, civil society organizations, international non-governmental organizations and researchers. Over 60 such requests were approved in 2019 alone. According to Kesego Sei Sekgwama, the performance improvement coordinator at the Independent Electoral Commission in Botswana: ‘Although Botswana has never experienced election-related violence, the imperative for the commission and senior management is to be aware of these risks in order to make informed strategic decisions.’

International IDEA’s work on this topic is shaping the practices of national and international electoral stakeholders. This influence is demonstrated by the interest and positive feedback from partners including the Independent National Electoral Commission of Nigeria, those interested in collaboration, such as the Central Election Commission of Palestine, and feedback from our Building Resources in Democracy and Governance (BRIDGE) partners in Nepal. This programme’s work is also influencing a broader group of stakeholders with which the Institute has not directly engaged. For example, Academy Halogen used the policy paper on Risk Management in Elections to frame multi-stakeholders’ expert discussions that rated risks and provided recommendations before the 2019 general elections in Nigeria.

Since 2013, International IDEA has supported more than 20 electoral management bodies worldwide to recognize and respond to complexities and risks in the electoral processes.

Read more stories about International IDEA's results in our Annual Outcome Report 2019: Democracy In Action.

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