Election Dispute Resolution Workshop

May 24, 2015

Zineb Touimi-Benjelloun

UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative

Honorable Mrs. Lefterie Luzi, Chairperson of Central Elections Commission
Honorable Judge Alaudin Malaj, Chairman of the Tirana Court of Appeal
Honorable Judges of the Electoral College and members of the Election Commission,
and Colleagues,

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you all this morning to this important – and timely – workshop in advance of Albania’s 2015 local elections. The significance of these elections is very clear to all of us present today.  All one has to do is turn on the television, open a newspaper or just sit in a café here in Tirana or elsewhere in the country to realize this truth. Today gathered in this room are representatives of the leadership of the most important institutions of Albania’s elections: the Central Election Commission – charged with organizing the election throughout the country, including being the arbiter of many complaints and appeals; and the Electoral College, who has the noble task of being the final arbiters of electoral disputes.
I am honored to be joined this morning by the Honorable Judge Malaj, Chair of the Tirana Court of Appeal and Chair of the Central Election Commission, Ms. Lefterije Luzi. I greatly appreciate your dedication to the electoral process in Albania, which is reflected working with UNDP to organize this event this week for the members of your respective institutions.
I am very pleased that UNDP can avail the capacities and the tools available of BRIDGE to support the preparedness of the Electoral College and Central Election Commission, within the context of UNDP’s Strengthening Electoral Processes in Albania project. 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. As such it is a unique combination of international capacities that UNDP is proud to be in a position to provide to Albania.
As most, if not all, of you know, this is the second time for which UNDP has organized such a program – the first being in 2013 for Albania’s parliamentary elections. In 2015, we find ourselves in a much different context – still an election, with many of the same stakeholders, but for the offices of local government throughout the country.
In many ways local elections can be more complex, with essentially 122 different electoral contests taking place on the same day.  Also, zonal level commissions have more responsibility and decision making power in organizing elections within their respective regions, and as a result, the CEC has a greater role in being the arbiter of disputes arising from the processes taking place on this level.
Adding significance to the 2015 local elections, they take place in the context of Albania’s territorial administrative reform. UNDP and Albania’s international partners have supported Albania in this important and complex process, which of course is not yet over. The June elections in fact represent an important milestone along the way of completing this reform – as it will legally establish the Mayors and Councils of the sixty-one Municipalities which comprise Albania’s new structure of Municipal governance. The elections are also a historical milestone for bringing an equal number of women and men into municipal councils. In short, we are at a momentous threshold of change for Albania.
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. Finally, I take this opportunity to re-iterate the appreciation of the UNDP for the support provided by the Government of Sweden to this, and other UNDP electoral initiatives.
I wish you success, here over the next few days, and in the important service you do for your country over the coming weeks. Thank you.

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