Pakistan: Post-Election Community-Based Mediation and Adjudication Program
Achieving a fair and timely resolution of electoral disputes is critical for a democratic electoral process. For Pakistan, key administrative and procedural shortcomings in the electoral processes need be addressed to enhance credibility and acceptance of election outcomes, promote peaceful transitions of governments in the future and overcome current political challenges. IFES’ Pakistan: Post-Election Community-Based Mediation and Adjudication Program was designed to strengthen electoral dispute resolution processes and mitigate the potential for election violence by accomplishing the following: 1) streamline and standardize adjudication processes; 2) build capacity of electoral and adjudicatory bodies to effectively address electoral complaints; and 3) enhance key stakeholders and the general public’s understanding and use of adjudication processes to resolve election-related conflicts. In order to achieve these goals, IFES focused on four major programmatic areas:
Election Tribunal Monitoring: IFES’ Election Tribunal (ET) Monitoring activities involved the collection of data and preparation of comprehensive reporting in order to strengthen formal electoral dispute resolution mechanisms. Project findings highlighted considerable administrative and procedural delays at several stages of the ET process. A cross-section of stakeholders recommended improvements to the ET process and provided a measurable starting point for effective policy and legal reform for future electoral dispute resolution efforts.
Media Education: In conjunction with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), IFES drafted an Election Dispute Resolution Pamphlet to facilitate greater understanding of dispute resolution processes detailed in Pakistan’s Election Law, concentrating mostly on post-election procedures. Printed and translated pamphlets were widely circulated in English, Urdu and Sindhi as well as posted on the ECP website for general public access. Additionally, IFES organized two events to improve the media’s understanding and reporting of elections.
Voter Education: IFES implemented the first distinct voter education program on Pakistan’s electoral complaints process through a series of nationwide radio PSAs concerning the election complaint process in the two weeks leading up to the election.
Joint ECP-IFES Election Dispute Resolution Conference: The conference, Evolving Principles and Practices for Resolving Election Complaints: Pre-Polling Day, was held near Murree, Pakistan, with representation from officials from the ECP Secretariat, provincial and district offices and by select district and sessions court judges who had previous experience serving as District Returning Officers and Returning Officers during the election. This conference raised awareness and facilitated a proactive discussion of a complaints process. Despite on-going political activity and administrative challenges, IFES’ project achieved significant achievements.