Election Dispute Resolution Workshop

27 May 2013

Opening Remarks by UN Resident Coordinator, Zineb Touimi Benjelloun

Honorable Mrs. Lefterie Lleshi, Chairperson of Central Elections Commission,

Honorable Judge Alaudin Malaj and Honorable Judges of the Electoral College

Representatives of Political Parties

Colleagues,

This is a small gathering today to start a rather critical workshop in advance of the general elections of next month. I need not repeat the obvious that elections are indeed the pillar of democracy and rule of law. Proper conduct of elections ensures legitimacy of political power. As you all know the conduct of elections in turn requires strong institutions. Today gathered in this room are some of most important actors of any election: the high level judges of appeal courts who have been nominated to the noble task of being the final arbiters of electoral disputes. I congratulate you all, Honorable Judge Malaj and all the distinguished members of the courts, for rising to this challenge. I also do not envy you your task.

Electoral disputes are part and parcel of democracies. Parties, political leaders and constituencies can and should raise such contestations and disputes to the appropriate electoral management body – in our case ultimately the Electoral College. It is the preparedness and capacity of the electoral institutions to manage such disputes in a timely manner that sets advanced democracies apart from others. I am confident that today’s workshop is a demonstration of the intention and the willingness of the members of the Electoral College to get themselves prepared for handling such critical decisions.

I am very pleased in this context to avail to Albania the capacities and the tools available to the international community to support the preparedness of the Electoral College. BRIDGE stands for Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections. It is a joint project of IDEA, IFES, the Australian Electoral Commission, the UN Electoral Assistance Division and UNDP and is further supported by the EC-UNDP partnership on Electoral Assistance http://www.ec-undp-electoralassistance.org/.  As such it is a unique combination of international capacities that UNDP is proud to avail to Albania, under the overall rubric of the international working group on elections convened under the able leadership of OSCE.  

We hope today to be a start of a fruitful cooperation between Albania’s electoral institutions and the UNDP for longer term capacity development and knowledge generation in all fields of electoral cycle management in partnership with the civil society and the international community. I take this opportunity to re-iterate the appreciation of the UNDP for the support provided by IFES to this UNDP initiative and thank the US Government for this.

I wish for a successful workshop. Thank you.