New UN report outlines measures to prevent electoral violence in Asia

29 June 2011A new United Nations report warns that Asian nations are at risk of electoral violence, driven by real and perceived fraud and corruption, and stresses the need for strong oversight and other measures to strengthen election credibility. A new United Nations report warns that Asian nations are at risk of electoral violence, driven by real and perceived fraud and corruption, and stresses the need for strong oversight and other measures to strengthen election credibility. In “Understanding Electoral Violence in Asia,” the UN Development Programme (UNDP) studies electoral processes in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines and Thailand, drawing lessons and making recommendations to reduce the risk of electoral violence.“The mere suspicion or allegation of fraud is often enough in democracies where there is a lack of confidence in authorities for people to react violently,” says the study.According to the report, in a number of cases political parties and political party supporters were the main instigators of physical violence, citing several types of groups and organizations that play key roles in either preventing or perpetuating electoral violence.The design of political systems, the mandate and powers of electoral laws and election monitoring, as well as the role of civic education, media and civil society in informing voters can all help to reduce or prevent the likelihood of election-related violence, it adds.The report points out that the state itself can also contribute to election disorder. “In instances where security forces are seen to be partisan or corrupt, there is a higher chance that they will be purveyors of violence rather than protectors of peace.”The media, when controlled by special interests, can also have a “destructive role in promoting narrow interests, inflammatory political rhetoric and retarding democratic processes,” it says.The report recommends measures to strengthen election credibility, which it says is key to preventing electoral violence. These include strong oversight and enforcement powers for election commissions, wide-ranging dispute resolution mechanisms and systems to track party political spending, as well as ensuring perpetrators of electoral violence are brought to justice.

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