Core Concepts - Capacity Development and the Electoral Cycle
As noted in the section of this Toolkit on Capacity Assessment, capacity development is essential to the long-term success of electoral institutions and processes. Capacity refers to the ability of individuals and organizations to perform functions effectively, efficiently and sustainably. As such, it needs to be considered across all aspects of the electoral cycle.
Until recently, the main objective of capacity development in electoral assistance was to conduct a successful election. But today the goal stretches beyond single events, aiming instead to develop professional, inclusive and sustainable institutions and processes that enable people to freely and consistently choose their representatives.
From UNDP’s perspective, capacity development has some specific parameters. It should:
UNDP’s systems approach to capacity development is based on the rationale that one cannot think of developing capacity at just one level or for a single institution or sector. Multifaceted in nature, capacity development requires interventions that produce systemic rather than individual changes. Improvements in one aspect of the electoral cycle, for example, will not be meaningful unless the rest of the system functions properly.
Three kinds of capacities
For more details, see Supporting Capacity Development: The UNDP Approach and the Checklist for Assessing System, Organizational and Individual Capacity. Key capacity development resources include the BRIDGE Project, the EC-UNDP Joint Training on Effective Electoral Assistance and the ACE Project.
Training is an important tool in the capacity development toolkit, but not the only one. See the Checklist of Key Considerations and Challenges for Training and Education Initiatives.