The Nauru Electoral Support Project (NESP) will undertake a number of activities which include strengthening civic education and voter awareness in Nauru, supporting the Electoral Commission with legal and technical advisory capacity and enhancing women’s electoral participation.
In his meeting with the Electoral Commission in Nauru, the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General, UNDP Assistant Administrator, and Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, Haoliang Xu reaffirmed UNDP’s ongoing support to the Government of Nauru.
“UNDP is delighted to partner with the Electoral Commission in Nauru on this project,” said Xu. “UNDP and project partners will help strengthen the electoral process as a whole, including civic education and voter awareness as well as legal, technical and regulatory aspects of the elections.” Xu added, “through this project, UNDP will increase its dedicated support to Nauru for effective governance and people’s political participation.”
Voting is compulsory for citizens aged 20 years and above and according to the Nauru Post-Election Report, voter turnout in 2016 was 94 per cent.
While turnout may have been high, there have been ongoing discussions on how voters can better understand the importance of their vote and Nauru’s system of governance, and how the electorate can be better educated to make informed choices.
“I am delighted that the Electoral Commission will be working with UNDP on this project over the next two years,” said the Electoral Commissioner of Nauru, Mr. Joseph Cain.
General elections will likely be held in 2019 and it is important that the Electoral Commission continues to strengthen and improve our electoral processes. It is for this reason a request was made to the United Nations for assistance and it is great news for Nauru that UNDP was able to respond positively.”
“The Electoral Commission has a number of plans to improve the electoral process in Nauru and we hope that this project will be able turn our plans into reality.”
Mr. Cain added, “this includes efforts to improve technical and legal aspects of the electoral process as well as wide ranging civic education and voter awareness campaigns that will include consultations and activities in all districts.”
In the 2016 general election, only four out of 67 candidates were women. This low level of engagement by women with the election process is at odds with much higher levels of representation in the public service where women hold senior positions.
Cultural barriers may exist but practical barriers may also serve to discourage greater numbers of women from standing for parliament which is an important aspect the project will help to address.
The two-year project will commence in July 2018 and run until June 2020.
Photo UNDP. Caption: United Nations Assistant Secretary-General, UNDP Assistant Administrator, and Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, Haoliang Xu meeting with Electoral Commissioner of Nauru, Mr. Joseph Cain