IPI HomePublicationsMeeting NotesElections and Stability in West Africa

 

print print  |  share share back back

Meeting Notes - June 04, 2012

Elections and Stability in West Africa

Kendra Collins, rapporteur

 

 

A large number of elections have been conducted in West African countries in recent years, and these elections provide insights into some of the strengths and weaknesses of the electoral process. Successful transfers of power in countries such as Senegal, Guinea, and Niger have resulted in significant progress toward peace and stability in the region.

However, the region has also seen election-related crises, and election-related violence remains a concern. Coups took place just before scheduled elections in Mali and Guinea-Bissau in March and April of 2012, in addition to earlier high-profile cases of election violence in Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria.

There is a consensus emerging that in African states with structural and institutional weaknesses, especially those emerging from years of conflict, increasing attention should be paid to creating conditions conducive to holding elections, and a regional conference was convened in May 2011 in Praia, Cape Verde to discuss elections and stability in the region.

This meeting note summarizes an IPI roundtable discussion following up on the Praia conference, organized in partnership with the UN Electoral Assistance Division (UN EAD). The report identifies a new paradigm for electoral assistance—one that integrates conflict-prevention strategies; gives increased attention to the political, not just technical, aspects of the electoral process; and views elections as one component of a longer-term commitment to building democracy.

  To strengthen international electoral assistance, the note recommends the following best practices, among others:

  • Instead of focusing only on the first round of elections in postconflict contexts, electoral support should be designed and delivered in a way that empowers domestic actors and institutions to organize their own elections in a sustainable manner.
  • Expensive, high-tech solutions may not always be appropriate; electoral assistance should be cost-effective and focus on building confidence in the electoral process among contestants and voters alike.
  • The relationship between international assistance providers should seek to maximize comparative advantages, encouraging collaboration not competition.
This meeting note was drafted by Kendra Collins, a consultant for UN EAD, with the support of Ann Wright, who at the time was a research assistant at IPI.

The Global Observatory

Caught in the Middle: Civilian Protection in South Sudan
Absent an active effort by the South Sudanese government, the UN Mission will need to adopt a holistic approach to civilian protection.

Key Global Events to Watch in October
A list of key upcoming meetings and events with implications for global affairs.

2014 Top 10 Issues to Watch in Peace & Security: The Global Arena
A list of ten key issues to watch that are likely to impact international peace and security in 2014, compiled by IPI's Francesco Mancini.

The Global Observatory, produced by IPI, provides timely analysis on peace and security issues, interviews with leading policymakers, interactive maps, and more.

Recent Events

October 09, 2014
Rethinking Women and Forced Migration
The drastic increase in conflicts around the globe has seen the world’s displaced population pass 55 million people, and the fact that 80% of them are women and children is prompting many to rethink how the international community is responding.

October 09, 2014
Africa: China’s Second Continent
Speaking at an IPI Distinguished Author Series event on October 9th, author Howard French made a case for how Western underestimation of Africa’s economic promise has enabled China to establish an economic and human presence on the continent, leading to the permanent migration there of nearly 2 million Chinese.

September 30, 2014
Vike-Freiberga: Rethinking the United Nations
In a speech delivered at IPI on September 30th, Dr. Vaira Vike-Freiberga gave a sobering historical analysis of the gains and setbacks made by the international system over the past century and, focusing on the UN, she called for a rethinking of the organization’s structure and approach to peace.

View More