Monday, March 29, 2010
CIPI Successfully Hosts Conference on Preventing Electoral Violence and Instituting Good Governance
On March 22, 2010, the Center for International Policy and Innovation (CIPI) at Carnegie Mellon University and the Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) partnered to successfully host a three-day international Conference on Preventing Electoral Violence in Africa. Thirty-eight high-level participants representing 10 countries, the United Nations, and 26 organizations convened in Accra, Ghana, to participate in this conference, which was designed to focus on effective prevention and mitigation of violence through credible elections and good governance.
Conference participants pose for photo with Ghana’s Vice President, H.E. John Dramani Mahama (Front Row, center in cream shirt)
The distinguished participants reviewed recent incidents of election violence across Africa to gather lessons on the conditions and triggers for violence as well as discussed steps that could be undertaken to prevent violence in coming elections. Five countries served as case studies for the discussion – Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Sudan, and Uganda – and officials from all five countries participated in the conference, represented by high level government officials and electoral commissioners. Other participants also included scholars, diplomats, civil society, non-profit foundations, business leaders, and officials from regional organizations.
Distinguished Members of the Dais for the Opening Ceremonies:
Prof. E. Gyimah-Boadi, Foreign Minister Alhaji Mohammad Mumuni, Dr. Jendayi Frazer, and Mr. Ed Marcum.
The conference was officially opened on March 22 with a welcome address by the Honorable Alhaji Mohammad Mumuni, Foreign Minister of Ghana and Conference Partner. Attendees and media representatives also received words of welcome from the conference organizers, Dr. Jendayi Frazer, CIPI Director, and Dr. E. Gyimah-Boadi, CDD-Ghana Executive Director. Mr. Ed Marcum, Director of Investments for Humanity United, offered welcome remarks on behalf of the conference sponsor. Ghana’s Vice President, John Dramani Mahama, the Conference Guest of Honor, delivered a keynote address during the opening luncheon. The conference also featured a special address delivered by Ambassador Said Djinnit, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa, on March 24.
Ambassador Said Djinnit, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, addresses the Conference
Throughout seven targeted sessions, the participants discussed a range of issues and factors contributing to electoral violence, challenges confronted when organizing and conducting free and fair elections, practical steps countries had taken to prevent the recurrence of electoral violence, and the role of diplomacy in preventing elections from becoming or continuing to be plagued by violence. The conference sessions were divided into the following topics:
- Overview of Recent Electoral Violence
- Issues of Inclusion and Exclusion
- The Role of Civil Society, Media and African Parliaments
- Upcoming Elections: Organizing Free and Fair Elections
- Preventing Electoral Violence
- Case Studies: A Closer Look at Election Success Cases
- Concrete Actions and Next Steps
Rapporteurs for the conference compiled summaries from the sessions and extrapolated key points into an Action Plan that was developed and endorsed by the participants assembled. By endorsing the Action Plan, participants committed to supporting efforts for greater standardization across the continent and among African regional organizations of what constitutes the conduct of a credible election, credible electoral observation, and codes of conduct for the various stakeholders involved in elections. Equally as important, new relationships among the conference participants were formed especially between the senior government officials and the civil society participants that will help to increase transparency and understanding and ultimately contribute to building the partnerships needed to stop violence.
CDD-Ghana and CIPI, the conference organizers, are in the process of turning the key findings from the conference into an edited volume to better share the lessons learned and best practices highlighted during the conference with the wider stakeholder community. Conference moderators and presenters are currently preparing chapters to be included in an edited volume, which the organizers endeavor to have published by the end of the year.
The conference received significant media coverage from Ghanaian, regional and international media.
Conference organizers Dr. Jendayi Frazer and Prof. E. Gyimah-Boadi grant interviews to the media following the public conference opening ceremonies.
Top image: Ghana's Vice President, H.E. John Dramani Mahama, left, receives a gift from conference co-organizer Dr. Jendayi Frazer, following his keynote address.
For more information:
- CDD-Ghana, CIPI Joint Press Release
- Conference coverage from All Africa
- BBC World Service, "Network Africa," March 23 (Audio)
- BBC World Service, "Weekend Network Africa" March 27 (Audio)
- Conference coverage from Graphic Ghana news: Election party financing;
- Conference coverage from VOA (Voice of America) News: Prevent Election Violence
- Photos from the conference