The heads of election commissions from across the Commonwealth will gather in Trinidad and Tobago next week for a major international conference aimed at advancing good practices and principles for elections.
The Commonwealth Electoral Network’s 2016 Biennial Conference will address contemporary priorities and challenges faced by electoral management bodies, such as ensuring equal access for all, including women and minority groups, the regulation of election campaign finance, and managing the power of incumbent governments. It will also look at emerging issues such as the use of new technologies including social media.
The conference, which is convened by the Commonwealth Secretariat and hosted by the Elections and Boundaries Commission of Trinidad and Tobago between 22 and 24 June 2016, seeks to help electoral commissions exchange knowledge, boost capacity-building and maintain their independence.
— The Commonwealth (@commonwealthsec) June 15, 2016
In a message for the conference, Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General Josephine Ojiambo, says: “Election management bodies carry the hopes and indeed the legitimate expectation of voters. Our Commonwealth citizens rightly demand credible elections and results that reflect their common will.
“Democracy is a hard-won goal which demands guiding principles and good practices. We look forward to advancing further these principles and practices together in the Commonwealth at this conference, setting a compass bearing for the wider world as we do so.”
The Commonwealth Electoral Network (CEN) was established in May 2010 in Ghana, after it was first endorsed by Commonwealth Heads of Government in 2009. Its aim is to facilitate experience sharing, create peer support mechanisms and embed good electoral practices in the Commonwealth’s 53 member countries. The last Biennial Conference was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2014.
Mark Ramkerrysingh, Chairman of the Elections and Boundaries Commission of Trinidad and Tobago, said: “The Commonwealth Electoral Network is an important body in developing the capacity of electoral management bodies in the Commonwealth for the conduct of fair, credible and inclusive elections. It has also proven itself useful in providing a forum for the sharing of experiences among electoral management bodies which leads to an improvement in the functioning of these bodies which are so crucial to our democracies.
“We therefore look forward to the 2016 Biennial Conference with the expectation that it will further the vision and the purpose of the CEN.”
During the CEN conference in Port of Spain, delegates will also receive presentations by alumni of the Commonwealth’s successful Junior Election Professionals programme, which over the last three years has been strengthening the expertise of the next generation of electoral administrators. Another focus is on discussing practical ways to overcome barriers to participation by women in elections and politics.
Notes to Editors:
Find out more about the Commonwealth's work to support elections and democratic institutions: thecommonwealth.org/elections
Visit the conference event page: thecommonwealth.org/cen2016
Photos from the conference will be made available at: flickr.com/photos/comsec
Photo caption: Election officials with ballot boxes during the Trinidad and Tobago General Election, 11 December 2000.