Memorandum of Understanding Strengthens Electoral Security Collaboration in Georgia
Georgia’s Central Election Commission (CEC) and Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) signed their third consecutive Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on electoral security on September 12, 2018. The MoU outlines how the CEC and MIA will cooperate to ensure security for the October 28, 2018, presidential election. Beyond coordination of communication and activities, the two bodies will jointly provide Georgian police with specially tailored training on their roles during the electoral process and on Election Day in particular. This third MoU reflects an institutionalized cooperation that had not existed prior to encouragement from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) in 2016.
IFES aimed to address a significant gap in Georgian electoral security by bringing together the CEC and the MIA and encouraging their collaboration through its “Enabling a Peaceful Environment to Administer Credible Elections” (ePeace) training program.* The first ePeace training in 2016 was the first time representatives from the CEC and MIA had trained together. IFES Technical Lead for Elections, Conflict and Security Vasu Mohan, who developed ePeace, led this initiative in Tbilisi. The ePeace curriculum draws from IFES’ global experience with electoral security to provide police and election management bodies with improved knowledge of the security challenges unique to elections and the skills to more effectively play their roles in the electoral process. It emphasizes the values of neutrality and impartiality that must be embodied by each institution and the rights of citizens, rooted in national and international law, that must be protected. The culmination of the 2016 training was the development of a coordination mechanism, which became the first MoU between the CEC and MIA prior to the national parliamentary elections that same year.
“In the past the CEC did not have a specific plan and systematic vision to address electoral security. International partners have noted that election security is a pressing concern. The collaborative experience during this electoral cycle was successful. We are committed to continue to work on this topic and intend to advance in the field of electoral security. Many thanks to IFES for its technical expertise in assisting the CEC.” – Tamar Zhvania, CEC Chair
Upon signing the September 2018 MoU, Minister of Internal Affairs Giorgi Gakharia and CEC Chair Tamar Zhvania delivered remarks stressing the past successes of this cooperation in every electoral cycle since 2016. IFES was thanked for initiating the MoU and providing required expertise.
*“A well-trained and disciplined security sector, coupled with an institutionalized, legitimate and effective electoral administration body, tends to create the largest reductions in election-related violence.” Claes, Jonas, and Geoffrey Macdonald. “Findings and Conclusion.” Electing Peace: Violence Prevention and Impact at the Polls, United States Institute of Peace Press, 2016.