UNDP’s Regional BRIDGE Workshops in Amman, Jordan
16 January 2012
UNDP’s support for elections covers all aspects of the electoral cycle with a focus on building the long-term sustainable capacity of national entities to conduct credible and inclusive electoral processes. To consolidate the electoral cycle approach, and develop stronger substantive and programmatic linkages between electoral assistance and democratic governance, UNDP launched the Global Programme for Electoral Cycle Support (GPECS) in 2009, which provides targeted support to strengthen national capacity for electoral administration and management over time. One of the key objectives of GPECS is to strengthen the capacities of Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs) and other electoral stakeholders, contribute to professional networks of electoral practitioners and reinforce the UNDP electoral assistance programming.
In partnership with the GPECS Regional Component for the Arab states, the UNDP’s Regional Center in Cairo (RCC) has organized a five-day regional BRIDGE workshop for representatives of Electoral Management Bodies (EMB), League of Arab States (LAS), UNDP staff in country offices, staff and other electoral stakeholders from the Arab States region. The training has been delivered in Arabic, from 11 to 15 December 2011 in Amman, Jordan.
This five-day workshop is intended to introduce BRIDGE to UNDP staff in country offices and representatives from their respective EMBs the main principles and concepts of Electoral Systems and Processing. The workshop agenda drew from three different modules (foundation module, electoral systems and electoral management design). The workshop has also explored the effects of electoral systems on representation and intended to forge ties among electoral stakeholders in the region for future cooperation.
The aim of BRIDGE project is to utilise the BRIDGE curriculum as a development tool to enhance the capacity of electoral managers, practitioners and stakeholders. In addition it aims at developing training skills and providing access to BRIDGE materials for electoral trainers through its Train the Facilitator programme.
UNDP’s Regional Center in Cairo (RCC), has organised the training workshop aiming to provide participants with an understanding of some fundamental concepts of electoral design and election administration and related activities.
In particular, the workshop aimed to achieve the following objectives:
- To facilitate regional cooperation and sharing experience between election actors in different counties in the Arab region.
- To enhance the professionalism and capacity of participants to support the delivery of elections;
- To explore main features of electoral design, especially the design of electoral systems and election management bodies;
- To increase the access to, and availability of internationally recognised training materials for electoral administrators, thereby providing EMBs with a proven and effective capacity-building tool.
- To introduce participants to the methodology and content of BRIDGE project
- To encourage and strengthen networking and experience sharing between local and regional stakeholders.
In specific, the workshop was designed to help the participants achieve the following learning outcomes:
- The ability to identify accepted international standards and principles of elections
- The ability to examine different definitions and criteria for free and fair elections
- The ability to identify potential functions of the EMBs and electoral processes stakeholders
- The ability to identify the definition of Electoral Systems and their main variables
- The ability to identify the main types of Electoral Systems and the advantages and disadvantages of the main families and systems
- The ability to identify different types of election administration bodies, their roles and responsibilities
- The ability to identify primary and secondary stakeholders of the electoral process, and their inter-action with, and responsibility of, the EMB towards stakeholders;
- The ability to identify the electoral cycle phases and the role of EMB within each phase
To achieve the above objectives, RCC has organised an “Introduction to Election Management” workshop, as an initial phase of a long term comprehensive program designed to build the capacity of participants in two aspects. First, is to enhance participants’ professional development as election practitioners and electoral assistance providers. Second is to transfer skills to be able to design, organise and run BRIDGE as a tool for supporting elections.
UNDP Regional Center in Cairo has hired a regional election consultant to assess training and institutional capacity needs to conduct a regional BRIDGE workshop. In cooperation with UNDP country offices, the consultant has assessed the need for training modules of BRIDGE training with national partners in participating countries such as the League of Arab States, EMBs, Ministries of Interior in Egypt and Lebanon, Ministry of Political Development in Jordan, and the Prime Minister office in Jordan. Based in this assessment, UNDP – RCC planned and organized the BRIDGE regional workshop in Amman in which 28 participants were invited for a five-day training workshop.
The five-day “Introduction to Election Administration” workshop was inaugurated by Ms. Jacinta Barrins – Country Director, UNDP Jordan. The training brought together 28 participants representing different countries and organisations in the region. The workshop offered an opportunity for participants to gain and share skills and knowledge on main election topics relevant to their context and specific needs.
In her inauguration speech, Ms. Barrins stressed the fact that the workshop comes in the context of the UNDP efforts to support election administrations and electoral assistance providers in the region. She highlighted the fact that BRIDGE, as a capacity development tool, can be considered as a tool available to EMBs in the region, to be adapted and owned by local stakeholders to develop capacity, and enhance professionalism, of electoral professionals in the Arab states. The area of capacity building for local election professionals and EMBs at various levels comes as a key area for UNDP’s Global Programme for Electoral Cycle Support (GPECS) launched in 2009. Hence, RCC is considering this workshop as an initial effort to be continued with a comprehensive capacity building program where BRIDGE emerged as a tool proved its effectiveness and impact in different parts of the world.
Course preparation started before the arrival of facilitation team to Amman. The Facilitators, in consultation with UNDP RCC, had discussed the workshops’ objectives and agreed on the main topics of the agenda based on UNDP regional training assessment. It was agreed that the agenda and the content of the course should address the specific needs of the region, and be relevant to the needs of the participants coming from different countries, backgrounds, experiences, knowledge and responsibilities. Therefore, the workshop was customized to introduce the basic principles of free and fair elections, electoral systems, and electoral management design. Following the approval of the agenda framework, BRDGE facilitators developed and agreed on a final workshop agenda, and started producing the necessary resources both for participants and facilitators.
The associated activities were then divided among the facilitators, in order to allow for the immediate review and preparation of the respective facilitators notes and resources in the days that would follow. The facilitators hold further detailed discussions on the conduct of the workshop and to pool resources and exchange ideas on the presentation of the activities, before separating to continue with individual preparations. Finally, there was a last pre-workshop meeting of the facilitators to set-up the training venue, and to identify any final resource requirements. The room itself was conducive to the conduct of a participatory training, and there was adequate space available at the extremities of the room for ice-breakers and energizers.
Besides BRIDGE materials, facilitators have also enriched the workshop with case studies, regulations, and documents from countries in which they were involved in providing technical assistance and capacity building for electoral stakeholders.
In addition to these materials, facilitators produced new materials for new activities as well as new background materials covering some of the course topics.
After compiling the participants’ Handbook, UNDP RCC took the lead to produce the handbook in Amman.
The facilitation team for the Introductory workshop consisted of:
- Emad Yousef -Independent-BRIDGE Lead Facilitator (Jordan)
- Hassan Hussein – UNDP regional consultant for election assistance and youth political participation, BRIDGE Facilitator (Egypt)
- Amani Hammad- UNDP-Iraq, Semi-accredited Facilitator (Jordan)
The facilitation team quickly formed and maintained strong professional and productive relationships with the participants throughout the workshops. The facilitation team was a good mix of extensive BRIDGE experience, professional experience, international experience and country background.
One of the three facilitators (Amani Hammad) had completed with this workshop the field work requirement for the full accreditation of BRIDGE, and therefore was fully accredited as a BRIDGE workshop facilitators.
Twenty-Eight participants attended the workshop in Amman representing 11 countries as follows:
Country No. of Participants
- Jordan 3
- Egypt 6
- Lebanon 3
- Sudan 2
- Yemen 2
- Tunisia 4
- Libya 3
- Iraq 2
- Algeria 1
- Saudi Arabia 1
- Palestine 1
The 28 participants also represented a various mix of League of Arab States, EMBs, country officials and UNDP staff.
Organisations No. of Participants
- EMBs 8
- UNDP 5
- LAS 9
- Country Officials 6
Most of the participants represented different departments within LAS as Human Rights Department (4), Asia and Australia Department (1), Arab Relations Department (1), Arab African Cooperation Department (1), Africa Department (1), and Human Resources Department (1).
The EMB representation ranged from established EMBs (Yemen, Palestine, Sudan, Lebanon MoIM) to newly established EMB (Tunisia) and an EMB in the process of establishment (Libya). In addition, Jordan participated with 2 government officials who are working closely with the EMB both at the Ministry of Political Development and the office of the Prime Minister.
Five UNDP country offices sent representatives to attend the workshop: Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, and Tunisia. UNDP country offices seem more interested in BRIDGE and some of them are already looking at opportunities to launch BRIDGE programs in the counties they are working in.
Participants represented as well a range of election experience ranging from beginners in election to those who were actively involved in preparing and leading electoral processes. In addition, participants represented a good gender balance – 12 out of 28 participants were women.
3.4 Training Topics and Workshop Agenda
The workshop was designed following the model of a five-day workshop. During the preparation time, the facilitation team discussed and agreed on the topics and structure of the agenda as explained in the following framework:
- DAY1 Introduction to BRIDGE and international standards and criteria for free and fair election
- DAY2-3 Electoral Systems
- DAY4 Election Management Design
- Day 5 Planning and Electoral Cycle
- 4. Conclusions Recommendations
The participants of the BRIDGE Introduction to Electoral Management workshop, who included different countries and organisations, have certainly expressed a desire for further workshops of this nature, particularly in the Train the Facilitator (TtF) program. BRIDGE is therefore deemed an appropriate capacity building tool in the context of UNDP RCC and UNDP country offices in the region.
The following short-to-medium term activities (1 -12 months from EMB establishment) are therefore recommended:
- Build the internal capacity of the future electoral management body to conduct electoral administration training
- Conduct a BRIDGE “Train the Facilitator” (TTF) Workshop, with approximately 20-24 carefully selected participants from EMBs and UNDP staff, in order to partially accredit a core team of BRIDGE facilitators
- Fully accredit the members of this core team of facilitators, through co-facilitation of BRIDGE thematic modules, supervised by BRIDGE accrediting facilitators (see recommendation 2).
- Conduct more Introduction to Election Management Modules covering various aspects of electoral administration for EMB and other election stakeholders
- Develop a plan and timeline for delivery of the module, together with the EMB
- Customize the Intro module for the local context with focus on issues relevant to the local context.
- Identify the participants from among the EMB staff and other stakeholders
- Conduct the customized BRIDGE Intro module to expand coverage of the capacity development program to different EMB levels, especially on the regions.
- Provide the TtF participants with opportunities to get their full accreditation