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Core Concepts - Advocacy

Advocacy is a useful means of communication in general in UNDP’s project management. However, in electoral assistance, advocacy needs to be approached carefully so that the UN’s impartiality is maintained. That being said, it is important to note that the United Nations is not a neutral organization; it is informed by values and principles embodied in its Charter and other founding documents. The Secretary-General’s representative in programme countries plays an important advocacy role with respect to human rights standards such as those embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or goals such as gender equality as captured in the Millennium Development Goals. Often, such advocacy efforts find their expression in electoral assistance programmes.

Advocacy in favor of international standards in the conduct of elections; sustainability and cost effectiveness of electoral processes; and inclusive registration and voting procedures are important elements of UN electoral assistance. The key challenge is ensuring that advocacy never strays into partisan support of contestants in a political contest or political statements about the elections.

In this respect, the DPA-UNDP Note of Guidance on Electoral Assistance stipulates that, “in providing electoral assistance, coordinating international observers, or any other election-related activity, the UN will not make public statements of a political nature or express an official view on the conduct or outcome of an election, unless such statements are prepared with UN Headquarters.”

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