UN-Spain partnership paves way for increased cooperation on electoral assistance

17 March 2006

A new agreement signed today between the United Nations and the Government of Spain paves the way for Madrid to boost its support for the world body’s work in field of electoral assistance – widely viewed as crucial to the process of democratic transition, especially for countries emerging from war.

A memorandum of understanding signed this morning in New York by representatives of the Spanish Government and the UN establishes potential cooperation in many areas, including support to election observer groups, exchanges of electoral experts between the signatories, and technical assistance for strengthening electoral systems within Member States requesting support.

Similar agreements have been signed with other governments, including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, India, Mexico and Panama.

Signing today’s memorandum was Maria Garcia Mahamut, General Director for Domestic Policy of Spain’s Ministry of Interior, and the UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Ibrahim A. Gambari.

The Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs is responsible for advising the Secretary-General on electoral requests from Member States, and for ensuring consistency in the delivery of UN assistance.

Supporting this effort, the UN’s Electoral Assistance Division reviews requests from Member States, undertakes needs assessment missions, maintains a roster of international electoral experts and provides technical assistance. It also collaborates with other UN agencies and departments to help design electoral assistance projects and the electoral components of peacekeeping operations.

Elections are widely viewed as vital to democratic transitions, the decolonization process, and UN-supported peace agreements ending civil wars around the globe. UN electoral assistance has supported landmark votes over the past year in such countries as Afghanistan, Burundi, Iraq and Haiti.

 

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