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Commonwealth can offer gold-standard election monitoring: New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs

13 January 2017

New Zealand’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Murray McCully, says the Commonwealth can best support its members through gold-standard election monitoring. During a meeting with Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland, the minister said there was a global demand for third-party electoral observance. 

The Commonwealth is providing support to Papua New Guinea, where elections will be held later this year. Likewise, New Zealand is reportedly helping Papua New Guinea with its national procurement and logistics plan, electoral roll update and other technical aspects of the election.

The Secretary-General referred to the recent Commonwealth observance of the elections in Zambia as an example of a successful observer group mission. She noted the benefits of the extended process of assistance, including advance preparation, support for the electoral commission, plus a post-election evaluation with key learnings identified.

Mr McCully also expressed his desire to see the judicial expertise of the Commonwealth enhanced. The Secretary-General agreed, and updated the foreign minister on some of her plans in this area. For instance, there might be an opportunity for judges retiring from the supreme court to form a pool of judicial talent that could be deployed to countries in need of expert assistance. The Secretary-General also discussed this year’s Commonwealth Magistrates and Judges Association Conference, and some of the items she wanted on the agenda, such as new regulatory structures with alignment from all Commonwealth countries.

They also discussed the need for the Commonwealth to carve a unique space in the area of climate change, working collaboratively with other actors without overlap.  In addition, the foreign minister encouraged the Commonwealth to focus on programmes such as governance, human rights and law, in order to maximise its contribution.