Kosovo: Election Assistance to Muncipal Election Officials: IFES Final Activity Report of Phase I, Oct 2001- March 2002
With funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for the period of September 2001 until March 2002, IFES played an integral role in the professional development of Municipal Election Commissioners (MEC) in Kosovo with its program for MEC training. IFES has been involved in the training of MECs since 2000. Following the first Municipal Elections in October 2000, IFES organized a three-day conference entitled "Electoral Administration in Kosovo: Next Steps." The conference participants, which included MEC representatives, NGO representatives, and political entities, indicated that there was an urgent need to start the process of transferring authority in electoral administration to the people and institutions of Kosovo. Participants were particularly concerned that the MECs should have more authority to make decisions on election related matters within their areas of responsibility, and in order to do so, a professional development program must be conducted that would enable the MECs to fulfill their functions according to international standards.
Although the OSCE Department of Elections Capacity Building Division is devoted to MEC training, the program prepared by the OSCE was strictly related to election technical training. The IFES training would instill in MECs the skills and resources necessary to develop their professional conduct in order to continue serving community needs before and after an election. Therefore, IFES initiated a short-term training program consisting of six regional seminars on international standards, the legal framework, voter education, voter registration processes, forming electoral management bodies, and election planning. Each seminar was one-day long and was administered in each of the five administrative regions in Kosovo. Each seminar format included a lecture, a question and answer period, and a small group discussion of case studies.
In addition to the specific topics from each of the six seminars, the necessary skills for performing the duties of an MEC were also taught. These skills included voter education techniques; maintenance of impartiality in election administration; skills development including management, strategic planning, budgeting, personnel and human resource management, and preparing information sessions with the media, the general public and the international community; and interacting with political entities, NGOs, and municipal assemblies. The acquisition of these skills by the MECs has greatly contributed to the development of them into self-sufficient election administrators, who will eventually be prepared for the departure of the international community.