As prepared for delivery
I am pleased to have the opportunity to contribute to the discussion today in commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the Office of the Electoral Commissioner. Let me begin by congratulating the commission on this milestone; and for taking the initiative to bring together commissions from the region to use this platform as an occasion to discuss important matters linked to governance, democracy, civic engagement and gender equality.
Right at the onset, let me also affirm that democracy and the rule of law remain at the core of UNDP’s work around the globe. Our work on governance for human development is underpinned by the belief that “democracy and transparent and accountable governance in all sectors of society are indispensable foundations for the realization of social and people-centered sustainable development”.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As the topic of today’s symposium suggests, we have come together in our various capacities to share experiences on how best to deepen good governance in the Indian Ocean region underpinned by the deeply entrenched principles and values related to democracy, transparency, observance of human rights within the context of electoral practice. In short, we are here today to pursue our commitment to practice good governance for substantive and accountable representation.
Good governance remains a proven effective strategy towards accelerated development in economic, political and social sectors of nations and towards the SDGs and human development. Electoral Management Bodies remain amongst the first entry points towards good governance as the authorities in the conduct of elections and are at the forefront every election process and election day.
For UNDP Mauritius, our country programme remains focused on inclusive development and public sector efficiency; whilst seeking to address gender equality. I am pleased to share with you that we have contributed to the efforts of successive Governments of Mauritius to put in place measures to strengthen these democratic values and processes.
This partnership was initiated in September 2018 by the Government of Mauritius and invited the UN family including UNDP and DPA under the auspices of the UN Resident Coordinator and IOC. Following 9 months of complex coordination, I am particularly pleased to see the gathering of key stakeholders at a time when we are fast approaching elections in the various countries represented here.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
UNDP’s interest in supporting this event is because we serve as the major implementing body of the multilateral system for capacity development support to electoral institutions, legal frameworks and processes outside the peacekeeping or post-conflict context.
Every year, UNDP contributes to the management of some 40 to 50 electoral projects around the globe, this is an election almost every week of the year. UNDP also engages with Member States on long-term capacity development, including the strengthening of electoral management bodies throughout the electoral cycle. At the local level, UNDP can also play a key role in the coordination of electoral assistance and provide support to important analysis and knowledge products on election-related issues.
Our support to this event is also evidence of our contribution to encouraging South-South cooperation. UNDP sees this kind of cooperation as an accelerator and multiplier of sustainable development. We are pleased to be joined by Mr. Tshiyoyo, Regional Electoral Advisor from our Regional Centre to contribute to the discussion on “Enforcement of campaign expenditure to ensure compliance with the rules”.
Thus, I would like to emphasize our availability to support in a manner to be proposed by the electoral management body, other organizations and key stakeholders and arising from this symposium in a national or regional programme aimed at deepening democracy.
Ladies and Gentlemen
Let me close my remarks with emphasis on the issue of inclusive participation and representation. As we engage in discussions on political participation in the electoral process, I would like to encourage emphasis on the participation and representation of women, youth and vulnerable groups, including issues of access by people with disabilities. As a matter of good governance, any electoral system should put in place procedures and processes to provide opportunities for all, including the most disadvantaged, to participate in and influence government policy and practice.
As you may be aware, Mauritius is faring well on the overall Global Gender Gap Index, however, the political representation of women is low at 12%. Here I wish to stress the importance of having in place the necessary legislative provisions and reforms to ensure that women are an integral part of the electoral system and placed in winnable seats. There have already been some successes, for example, with the adoption of the Local Government Act (2011), the representation of women councilors at local government level increased to 23 percent.
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
To conclude, I would like to say that Electoral Management Bodies have a critical role to play in contributing to the legitimacy of a democratic processes and the implementation of the rule of law through this peer networking I am sure there will be positive momentum in this regard. Please rest assured that UNDP will continue to extend collaboration and support to this endeavour in line with the Sustainable Development Goals, including Goal 16 on “Peace and Justice, and Strong Institutions”
I look forward to reading the deliberations of the Symposium. And thank you for listening.