The Cable

The Government of Australia has signed a AU$1.5m funding agreement with the Commonwealth Secretariat for an initiative to strengthen electoral good practices in Commonwealth member countries.

The Commonwealth Election Professionals Initiative is a programme to support countries in achieving credible and inclusive elections, through which officers from national electoral commissions are provided with training and professional development.

Small states in the Caribbean and the Pacific will benefit from an expansion of the programme, with targeted support for young professionals in non-permanent and small electoral commissions in those regions.

Australia's High Commissioner to the UK, Alexander Downer, and Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland today exchanged letters marking the funding agreement, at Marlborough House in London, the headquarters of the Commonwealth.

Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said: "Electoral commissions play an essential role as the custodians of elections, protecting the inalienable rights of voters and in deepening our democratic culture."

"Australia's continuing commitment to the Commonwealth Election Professionals Initiative is a testament to the programme's success in equipping the rising generation of electoral administrators with the skills and confidence to deliver credible elections and to be faithful to the trust accorded to them by voters."

High Commissioner Downer said: "As a founding member of the Commonwealth, Australia is proud to provide support to Commonwealth activities that assist with upholding the values of the Commonwealth Charter – democracy being the first amongst these values.

"The Commonwealth Secretariat has a proven track record in delivering on electoral observation and capacity building. We are pleased to be funding the second phase of the Commonwealth Election Professionals Initiative with AU$1.5 million. This programme will build on and expand the work of the first phase which was also funded by Australia."

The Commonwealth Secretariat launched the initiative through the Commonwealth Electoral Network in June 2013 with funding from Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The initiative has to-date supported nearly 100 junior election professionals in more than 40 countries. It provides training and professional development, helping to increase officials' technical capacity as well as their understanding of international election standards.

Ninety per cent of participants have reported that the initiative increased their skills, knowledge and effectiveness as electoral administrators.

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