Electoral commissions from across the Pacific are gathering in Fiji for three days to discuss ways in which electoral integrity can be promoted within the region.
The senior electoral representatives will be supported by the Commonwealth Electoral Network, the Pacific Islands, Australia and New Zealand Electoral Administrators (P.I.A.N.Z.E.A) Network, and the Fijian Elections Office as they seek to increase awareness of globally-recognised standards for credible and inclusive elections.
Election officials represented at the conference hail from Samoa, Australia, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General Josephine Ojiambo said: “The Commonwealth has significant expertise in assisting our member countries to achieve fair, credible and inclusive elections. This regional meeting provides a forum to engage in peer exchanges, which will nurture attempts to find solutions for the most demanding electoral challenges facing countries today.
“Working hand in hand with election management bodies, and with national governments at their request, the Commonwealth Secretariat offers Pacific countries tools to achieve world class electoral standards,” Dr Ojiambo said.
Delegates at the meeting will discuss lessons learned from past Commonwealth election observation missions with a particular emphasis on implementing observers’ recommendations. They will also explore ways to enhance women’s participation in the electoral process.
In addition, the Commonwealth Secretariat will brief Commonwealth Election Management Bodies on preparations for the 2016 Commonwealth Electoral Network Biennial Conference in June 2016. Outcomes agreed in Fiji will inform debates at the biennial meeting.
Simon Gimson, Director of Political Division at the Commonwealth Secretariat, said: "Our Commonwealth goal is to raise the quality of elections, and we are doing that through our global network of national election management bodies. At this meeting, we are working in partnership with the Pacific's own network – P.I.A.N.Z.E.A - and the Fijian Elections Office in particular to bring together senior representatives of electoral management bodies from across the region.
“By sharing Commonwealth and regional best practices and knowledge, we can improve the integrity of elections, ensuring that our Parliaments reflect the people they represent. Lessons learned from this Pacific meeting of electoral leaders and experts will be shared with our pan-Commonwealth network and add value at its biennial meeting in June", he said.
P.I.A.N.Z.E.A is an association of Pacific electoral administrators who, in the Pacific spirit, collectively encourage the free flow of electoral information among member countries and provide assistance where possible.