From the 22nd until the 26th of March, the Barcelona International Peace Resource Center opened its 2010 cycle of training courses in the Castell de Montjuic with this workshop on “Elections, Violence and Conflict Prevention”. The course was the result of collaboration in the field of Electoral Assistance between the European Commission and the United Nations Development Program.
The growing acknowledgement within the international community of a close link between electoral processes and conflicts has made clear the need for a better understanding of its synergies. While elections and electoral processes provide a means by which social conflict can be channeled into a constructive popular deliberation and dialogue, elections are nevertheless a process of competition for power in which, in some cases, violent conflicts can take place.
It is the will for improvement through further understanding of these mechanisms that has brought the Joint EC UNDP Task Force (JTF), International IDEA, UNDP Bureau for Conflict Prevention and Recovery, Barcelona International Peace Resource Center to collaborate in the elaboration of this thematic workshop bringing together experts from a conflict prevention and electoral assistance background.
The undisputable success in the sharing of experiences and identification of lessons learned and best practices was facilitated by the participation of more than 30 experts coming from headquarters and field missions as well as the academic community and practitioners such as representatives of the International Crisis Group and the International IDEA.
The workshop has benefitted from the experience of staff of international and regional organizations, members of electoral management bodies and representatives of CSOs working in a wide variety of countries such as Thailand, Burundi, East Timor, Zambia, Ethiopia, Uganda, Jamaica, Nigeria, Lebanon, Sudan, Tanzania, Ghana, Solomon Islands…
Against this incredibly rich professional background and through the analysis of various case studies among which Afghanistan, DRC, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Guyana, Bosnia-Herzegovina, one of the main outcomes of the course was to reiterate the strong need for considering each context as unique, and avoid falling into the one recipe solution trap.
The space given for debates in the numerous group sessions was fully exploited and topics such as Electoral Dispute Mechanisms and Security Sector Engagement, challenges of working with different stakeholders (the media sector, CSOs, political parties…) or the different dimensions of gender aspects of the electoral cycle were dealt upon among others.
The JTF and International IDEA, in collaboration with its partners within the Train4Dev initiative of training sessions on electoral assistance, initially set up a face-to-face EC-UNDP-IDEA Joint Workshops on Effective Electoral Assistance established in 2005, leading to Thematic Workshops like this one. As with the previous workshop, an eLearning course on Elections, Violence and Conflict Prevention will be available in the future.
The Peace Center, the Castell de Montjuic and its violent history offered a perfect setting for this training and contributed to its success.