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Commonwealth signs ‘significant’ agreement with IDEA

7 June 2012
"Developing and strengthening democratic institutions and processes is a cornerstone of the Commonwealth’s work"– Masire-Mwamba

The Commonwealth Secretariat and the Swedish-based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) have formally agreed to work together in supporting and consolidating democracy in Commonwealth countries.

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed in Stockholm today by Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba and IDEA Secretary-General Vidar Helgesen.

Mrs Masire-Mwamba said the agreement was also of particular significance in the context of recommendations made by the Eminent Persons Group to Commonwealth Heads of Government in Perth, Australia, in November 2011.

In their report ‘A Commonwealth of the People: Time for Urgent Reform’ the Eminent Persons Group called upon the Commonwealth Secretariat to continue to explore, with IDEA and other relevant institutions, ways in which the Commonwealth could co-operate with them in training programmes for Commonwealth countries. The Secretariat and IDEA had already been working co-operatively towards this end.

Mrs Masire-Mwamba said: “Developing and strengthening democratic institutions and processes is a cornerstone of the Commonwealth’s work. Today’s agreement with IDEA is a significant step towards increasing support to our member countries in this area."

The two organisations will prepare a programme of activities in co-operation with member countries and relevant organisations, as well as civil society and the media. This will include exchanging knowledge and experience and developing joint initiatives for co-operation in research and technical training and assistance.

The Memorandum of Understanding paves the way for further collaboration, focusing on projects in the areas of electoral processes, political parties, participation and representation, constitution-building processes, gender equality, diversity, conflict management and the links between democracy and development.