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EEAS Mediation Support Project Factsheet

Mediation and Dialogue in electoral processes to prevent and mitigate electoral related violence

November 2012

ECDPM. 2012. Mediation and dialogue in electoral processes to prevent and mitigate electoral related violence. (Factsheet - EEAS Mediation Support Project - Knowledge Product). Brussels: European External Action Service.

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This factsheet deals with EU mediation and dialogue in the context of electoral processes. The EU approach to mediation and dialogue in electoral processes is informed by practice and by the 2009 EU Concept on Mediation and Dialogue. The starting point of this factsheet is that elections will take place, and the focus is on elections in post-conflict environments characterised by fragile institutional settings and a heightened risk of return to instability and electoral violence. It points to possible entry points for preventive mediation efforts around elections as well as providing an overview of key dilemmas regarding mediation and dialogue as part of electoral support in the context of electoral disputes, electoral violence and failed elections. Elections can be a major catalyst for democratic change but they can also reveal underlying conflicts, exacerbate tensions, lead to violence and ultimately may undermine the legitimacy of elections as a democratic mechanism, if poorly conducted. Conflict may erupt throughout the whole electoral cycle and is not limited to the election day itself. Research suggests that the 3-month lead-up to elections poses particular risks for violence. Mediation and Dialogue therefore plays an important role. 

The EU electoral support comes in two forms: EU Electoral Assistance as well as EU Observation Missions. While the European Commission’s Methodological Guide on Electoral Assistance mentions mediation and dialogue as tools to prevent conflict it is usually providing more technical assistance. It is usually also not the task of the Electoral Observation Missions to engage in such activities. Yet, these two are often not enough to address the patterns of electoral violence, which are mostly related to political problems. Beyond the usually more technical electoral assistance, the EU has in fact a wide range of roles it can potentially play in relation to mediation and dialogue in electoral processes.

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