Celebrating IFES’ 30th Anniversary in Sri Lanka and Nepal
As the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) marks its 30th anniversary in 2017, it is also recognizing its partnerships with election management bodies, donor organizations, civil society organizations, and other local election stakeholders that have allowed IFES to contribute to the advancement of good governance and democratic rights. It was in this spirit of partnership that IFES President and CEO Bill Sweeney hosted anniversary events in Sri Lanka and Nepal to celebrate the impact that IFES and its partners have made worldwide and commit to ongoing cooperation in supporting citizens’ rights to participate in free and fair elections.
On January 19, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sweeney welcomed members of the Sri Lankan Election Commission; civil society representatives promoting gender equality, disability rights, and youth empowerment; and representatives of the United States Agency for International Development and Australian Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade to IFES’ first international 30th anniversary celebration. IFES has worked in Sri Lanka since 2005 and is currently working with the Sri Lankan Election Commission and civil society organizations to strengthen the Election Commission’s capacity to manage the electoral process, promote women’s electoral representation, and support the inclusion of women, persons with disabilities, and youth in the electoral process. Sweeney expressed his gratitude and respect for the Election Commission’s leadership and also recognized the invaluable contribution of local organizations, both of which were critical to the success of transformative presidential and parliamentary elections in 2015. IFES Regional Director for Asia-Pacific Vasu Mohan joined Sweeney at this event and shared IFES' history of supporting the electoral process in Sri Lanka starting after the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004.
On January 27, IFES held an anniversary reception in Kathmandu, Nepal, where Sweeney welcomed current and former members of the Election Commission of Nepal, civil society, and representatives of the donor community. IFES has worked in Nepal since 1999, a period that included the 2006 end to a decade-long civil war, groundbreaking Constituent Assembly elections in 2008 and 2013, and the establishment of a new constitution in 2015. Sweeney thanked the Election Commission for its long-term partnership, which began in 2006 shortly after the end of the conflict in preparation for the first Constituent Assembly elections, and which today includes cooperation on voter registration for marginalized groups, a nationwide training program for social studies teachers on electoral education, the development of election-related laws and regulations required by Nepal’s new constitution, and other critical initiatives.
At both events, Sweeney shared examples from IFES’ work around the world since 1987. Throughout the year, IFES will continue to recognize and celebrate its deep engagement with its national partners – an approach that has been at the core of its success for 30 years.