For many years, election-related violence has posed a serious threat to the integrity of electoral processes worldwide. To prevent or minimize such violence, the international community has often relied upon election observation missions, which incorporate an extended on-the-ground presence and proactive mediation by international and domestic actors. This report discusses the challenge observer missions face in confronting election violence, and suggests how preventive efforts can be enhanced through improved, multi-mandate observation practices.
Focusing on three case studies in Africa, this book analyzes the utility of diplomacy in preventing election violence. After defining and identifying the key dimensions of preventive diplomacy to prevent or reduce election violence, it looks at presidential elections between 2006 and 2017 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, and Nigeria. Drawing on personal experience, the literature, case study reviews, and expert interviews and roundtables with academics and practitioners, the book highlights conditions for the success and the failure of preventive diplomacy, offering recommendations to the international community for maximizing the efficacy of this unique tool.
A week and a half after Afghan presidential polls, the results remain unclear. But, we do know that turnout was historically low, largely due to dire security conditions. Meanwhile, with the peace process stalled, USIP’s Scott Worden says the upsurge in U.S. military operations against the Taliban is a “pressure tactic, not a victory strategy.”
After several delays, Afghans will finally head to the polls on Saturday to elect their next president. The election comes amid an indefinite stall in the year-long U.S.-Taliban negotiations following the cancellation of a high-level summit earlier in the month. There has been a debate over the sequencing of elections and the peace process for months, but the vote will move ahead this weekend. As with all post-2001 Afghan elections, security risks and the potential for fraud and abuse loom over these polls. USIP’s Scott Worden and Colin Cookman look at how insecurity will impact the legitimacy of the vote and what measures have been taken to combat electoral mismanagement and fraud.
Elections that are organized amid a peace process can either destabilize or pacify a conflict. The vote can put significant pressure on a peace accord, as Colombia is experiencing today, or it can integrate formerly warring parties into the political process, as in Nepal’s 2008 Constituent Assembly elections. The timing of elections in relation to peace processes, as well as the inclusivity of the process itself, are critical in determining whether peace or conflict prevails at the polls.
Iraq’s landmark 2018 national elections—the first since the military defeat of ISIS—presented an opportunity for a much-needed course correction for the country’s sclerotic political process. Unfortunately, that opportunity was not seized properly. The vote was marred by claims of widespread fraud, low voter turnout, a delayed results announcement and a protracted government formation process.
The people of Burma will head to the polls in late 2020 to elect more than 1,100 representatives to national, state, and regional legislative bodies. During a recent field assessment, the U.S. Institute of Peace confirmed that the risk of election-related violence is surprisingly low considering the ongoing conflicts and multitude of grievances. However, hate speech, disinformation, and intense competition between parties could create violent incidents, particularly during the campaign period. Early efforts to promote peaceful elections need to start now as the window for effective prevention will soon be closed.
Pakistan’s 2018 elections marked just the second time in history that power transferred peacefully from one civilian government to another after a full term in office. Although the initial months of campaigning were relatively free of violence, the two weeks before polling were dangerous for campaigners and voters alike, and the elections provided a platform for some parties to incite violence, particularly against Pakistan’s minority sects. This report provides a deep examination of how exposure to political violence in Pakistan’s largest city affects political behavior, including willingness to vote and faith in the democratic process.
Following his election observation, Taylor discusses Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s victory and how he can build support at home and abroad. “The president-elect is already getting a lot of support from the international community,” and if he implements the pro-Western policies he advocated during the campaign the U.S. will continue to strengthen bilateral ties, says Taylor.
In late 2020, Myanmar will hold a general election for more than a thousand seats in Union, state, and regional legislative bodies. The next year and a half will also see two high-level, conflict-laden processes capture domestic and international attention—the 21st Century Panglong peace conference and possible attempts to repatriate Rohingya refugees. This report evaluates the environment in which the peace process, Rohingya repatriation, and the election intersect and identifies opportunities for mitigating conflict in the run-up to the election.