Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma yesterday launched the Commonwealth’s first online collaborative workspace at the start of a two-day meeting of national electoral commissioners from around the Commonwealth in Toronto, Canada.
“The Commonwealth Electoral Network is our newest network and it has now been launched on a contemporary web-based platform. The Commonwealth Connects workspace will allow electoral commissions in all our member countries to be in constant contact, to be informed, and to develop gold standards of best practice together,” the Secretary-General said. “Commonwealth Connects is the new way for all Commonwealth networks to be able to meet and add practical value nationally and globally in future.”
The secure workspace is accessible to invited members through the Commonwealth Connects online platform. It provides an international resource centre designed to support best practice and develop expert knowledge for use by the Commonwealth Electoral Network.
Mr Sharma said: “The Commonwealth Electoral Network meets every two years, and this workspace will allow them to continue developing concepts and strategic proposals beyond the conference. It’s intuitive to use and can be accessed through mobile devices.”
Opening the conference, Mr Sharma paid tribute to Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, Chairman of Ghana’s Electoral Commission for his work in presiding over the Steering Committee over the past two years. The Commonwealth Electoral Network was launched in Accra, Ghana, two years ago following endorsement by Commonwealth Heads of Government in 2009.
Mr Sharma thanked Marc Mayrand, Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer, and incoming Chair, for hosting the meeting. He told delegates: “The partnership we enjoy with you, the election management bodies of the Commonwealth, is integral to the work we do to promote Commonwealth values and principles and notably to strengthen democratic process and institutions.”
In his keynote address at a reception hosted by Elections Canada, Senator Hugh Segal, Canada’s Special Envoy for Commonwealth Renewal, said: “Your network is really the ‘superstructure of legitimacy’ upon which Commonwealth democracies depend for their legitimacy and credibility. It is the foundation upon which rule of law and inclusive societies are built and sustained."
The Commonwealth Connects digital vision was unveiled last October during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth, Australia. Commonwealth Connects provides an online platform to support and showcase the Commonwealth’s organisations and associations.
The ‘Connects’ part of this future vision provides a dedicated and secure online environment for professionals and experts across the Commonwealth to network, collaborate and share information, knowledge, good practice and experiences in real-time.
Electoral officials from 60 Commonwealth countries are attending the meeting, as well as delegates from La Francophonie and the United Nations.