Chief Election Commissioner Shri Rajiv Kumar led a three-member Election Commission of India (ECI) delegation to Cartagena, Colombia to attend the 11th meeting of the Executive Board of the Association of World Election Bodies (A-WEB). The Association of World Election Bodies is the largest association of Election Management Bodies (EMBs) worldwide with 119 EMBs as Members & 20 Regional Associations/Organisations as Associate Members. An international conference on the theme “A global view on the challenges of regional elections 2023” is also being organised by National Civil Registry, Colombia on July 13, 2023.
CEC Shri Rajiv Kumar with Executive Board members of A-WEB
During the discussions, CEC Shri Kumar said that A-WEB as a global association plays a critical role in fostering co-operation amongst EMBs and thereby enabling learning from each other’s experiences and best practices. He stressed that EMBs through forums like A-WEB could work together on pressing challenges like countering fake narratives which are trying to derail the election integrity worldwide.
During the deliberations at the Executive Board meeting, the participants discussed various agenda items including the programmes and activities to be undertaken by A-WEB during 2023-24, annual progress report of A-WEB & its regional offices including A-WEB India Centre, budget and membership related matters amongst others.
Amongst the other agenda items in the meeting, CEC Shri Rajiv Kumar raised the ECI proposals namely – (i) setting up an A-WEB portal which would serve as repository of electoral best practices and initiatives taken by member EMBs in various aspects of electoral management and (ii) establishing A-WEB Global Awards for EMBs who make significant contribution and take important initiatives in the democratic processes. Both the proposals were approved by the Executive Board.
The ECI delegation included Shri Manoj Sahoo, Deputy Election Commissioner and Shri Anuj Chandak, Joint Director. A brief presentation on the activities of the India A-WEB centre during 2022-23 was given by DEC Shri Manoj Sahoo during the meeting.
On the sidelines of the 11th A-WEB Executive Board meeting, a bilateral meeting was also held with the National Election Commission of the Republic of Korea on ECIs Electronic Postal Ballot System. India and South Korea had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in 2012, to establish a mutually cooperative relationship in the field of election administration. The two EMBs have active bilateral exchanges and engagement through regular visits of officials for seminars, conferences and observer programmes. NEC also participated in the 3rd International Conference on ‘Inclusive Elections and Elections Integrity’ organised by ECI under the aegis of ‘Democracy Cohort on Elections Integrity’ in March 2023.
Background: ECI and A-WEB
A-WEB was founded in October, 2013 in Seoul, Republic of Korea on the shared vision among its members of achieving sustainable democracy around the world through the strengthening of the processes of election management in member countries. ECI has been very closely associated with the process of formation of A-WEB since 2011-12 and has been its Executive Board Member, since its inception in October 2013 for two consecutive terms (2013-15 and 2015-17). ECI took over as Vice-Chairperson of A-WEB for 2017-19 term; as Chair for 2019-22 term and is presently a member of its Executive Board for 2022-24 in its capacity as immediate former Chair of A-WEB. It may be recalled that in November 2022 during the 5th General Assembly meeting of A-WEB at Cape Town, Chief Election Commissioner Shri Rajiv Kumar handed over the A-WEB Chairmanship from ECI to Election Commission of South Africa, after leading the EMBs successfully during the covid pandemic (2019-2022).
A-WEB organises capacity building programmes for its member EMBs and undertakes Election Visitor and Observation Programmes in various countries to study election management practices and share knowledge with other member EMBs.
India A-WEB Centre
As per the decision taken at the meeting of the A-WEB Executive Board held at Bengaluru in Sep 2019, an India A-WEB Centre has been established at New Delhi for documentation and research for sharing the best practices and training and capacity building of officials of A-WEB members. The Centre is bringing out several publications and documents, including a world class Journal titled ‘A-WEB India Journal of Elections.’ The ECI is providing all the necessary resources for the India A-WEB Centre.