What’s the Key to Preventing Electoral Violence? “Trust,” Says Special Representative Nicholas Haysom

In the latest installment of DPPA’s Electoral Series videos, the UN’s top official in South Sudan talks about how to counter and prevent violence before, as and after people go to the polls.

I n the second installment of the DPPA Electoral Seriesinterviews with senior United Nations officials on electoral support and its connection to broader conflict prevention efforts — Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Nicholas Haysom underlines what he sees as essential elements to mitigate electoral violence.

“It’s really faith and trust in the elections themselves. That really has two aspects to it. It has what we call the technical aspect. That is, how well is the election organized, at least in regard to the acceptability of the results. Will people accept the results as a fair reflection of the opinion of people? For that really there is much that can be done, and the UN makes a considerable contribution in deriving arrangements, which would satisfy people that the electoral results are fair.”

Another key ingredient, said Haysom, is to build trust in the political environment in which the elections take place and to understand the connection between the technical and political conditions that underpin such a process.

“We have to understand what political forces are in play … the most important engagement is in fact the political engagement. Because that goes to the heart of the issue, which is trust in the result.”

DPPA launched Electoral Series to mark 10 years of its collaboration with the United Nations System Staff College on the training course “Political approaches to preventing and responding to election-related violence.” The course explores connections between the technical quality of an election and the broader political and economic context, and how these factors shape trust in an electoral process and the acceptance of results. It is held several times every year for United Nations personnel.

To watch the first Electoral Series video, in which Under-Secretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo talks about her role as UN focal point for electoral assistance matters, as well as DPPA’s approach to elections and its work with partners, click here.

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Politically Speaking

The online magazine of the United Nations Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs