North Macedonia Support Initiative
Location: North Macedonia
Program Name: North Macedonia Support Initiative
Period of Performance: November 1, 2019 - June 3, 2020
Funding Partner: U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
Supported through the North Macedonia Support Initiative (NMSI), the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) contributed to improving the cybersecurity posture of election administration to address a variety of internal and external threats and provided support to the Ministry of Information, Society, and Administration (MISA).
IFES conducted an in-depth cybersecurity assessment, which identified needs, gaps and key vulnerabilities in the State Election Commission’s (SEC) cyber-integrity process and mechanisms designed to respond to cyber threats. Following the assessment, IFES adapted its innovative Introduction to Electoral Technology and Cyber Hygiene course, a staple of its programming across Europe and Eurasia. Employees of the SEC, Regional Offices and Municipal Election Commissions completed the course and developed enhanced capacities to prevent cyber incidents and respond effectively to threats. IFES also facilitated the delivery of advanced cybersecurity training for information technology specialists, furthering institutional capacity in this field. This assistance increased the SEC’s preparedness for future elections.
Support to the Ministry of Information, Society and Administration
With funding from the NMSI, IFES engaged local and international expertise to provide assistance, advice and guidance to MISA in drafting relevant legislation and amendments consistent with appropriate European Union laws and regulations. This support included helping prepare the legal framework to establish a Central Electronic Population Register and improve legislation for electronic administration and services. IFES worked closely with MISA representatives on both legal and information and communications technology (ICT) aspects and coordinated with relevant stakeholders to review the proposed legislation, offering feedback and suggestions to improve the text of the laws. The experts also provided suggestions toward a better harmonization with the Acquis Communautaire, particularly regulations related to general data protection, electronic administration and electronic services.
IFES also identified a number of potential challenges and risks that could have arisen in the finalization and implementation of the legislation. It then provided recommendations to mitigate risks stemming from the execution of digital information policies established through the new e-government legislation based on discussions with various interlocutors. These interventions assisted the government of North Macedonia in introducing very challenging but crucial reforms that regulate the use of ICT in the public and private sectors.