The Election Commission of India is going to organize an International Webinar on 21st September 2020, on the Theme ‘‘Issues, Challenges and Protocols for Conducting Elections during COVID-19 : Sharing Country Experiences’ on its completion of one year of Chairmanship of the Association of World Election Bodies (A-WEB).
2. The Association of World Election Bodies (A-WEB) is largest association of Election Management Bodies (EMBs) worldwide. At present A-WEB has 115 EMBs as Members & 16 Regional Associations/Organisations as Associate Members. ECI has been very closely associated with the process of formation of A-WEB since 2011-1 ECI hosted the 4th General Assembly of A-WEB on 03 Sep 2019 at Bengaluru and took over as Chair of A-WEB for 2019-2021 term.
3. In accordance with the decision taken at the Extraordinary meeting of the A-WEB Executive Board held at Bengaluru on 02 Sep 2019, an India A-WEB Centre has been established at New Delhi, for world class documentation, research and training for sharing the best practices and capacity building of officials of A-WEB members. ECI has provided all the resources for this Centre. A number of initiatives, led by Shri Sunil Arora, Hon’ble Chief Election Commissioner of India and Chairperson, A-WEB are being taken under the aegis of India A-WEB Centre.
4. This is the first Webinar being held by the India A-WEB Centre. Over 120 delegates from 45 countries across the world (viz. Angola, Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Cambodia, Cameroon, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dominica, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Fiji, Georgia, Indonesia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Republic of Korea, Kyrgyz Republic, Liberia, Malawi, Maldives, Moldova, Mongolia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Palestine, Philippines, Romania, Russia, Sao Tome and Principe, Solomon Islands, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Taiwan, Tonga, Turkey, Uzbekistan and Zambia) and 4 international organizations (viz. International IDEA, International Foundation of Electoral Systems (IFES), Association of World Election Bodies (A-WEB) and European Centre for Elections) are going to participate in the Webinar.
5. The India A-WEB Centre has, in a very short period of its existence, come out with two very useful publications viz. ‘Brief Profiles of the Countries, member EMBs and Partner Organisations of A-WEB’ and ‘COVID 19 and International Election Experience’ which will be released at the Webinar for the benefit of the entire A-WEB community. The Centre is going to bring out a number of publications and documents, including a world class quarterly ‘A-WEB India Journal of Elections’. A brochure on the Journal is also being released at the Webinar.
6. At the Webinar, presentations will be made by participating EMBs and organisations. Session I which will be chaired by Shri Sushil Chandra, Hon’ble Election Commissioner will include presentations by Fiji, Republic of Korea, Mongolia and Taiwan as well as International IDEA and A-WEB where these EMBs and organisations are going to share the challenges faced as well as their experiences and perspectives for holding elections during COVID 19. Session II, which will be chaired by Shri Rajiv Kumar, Hon’ble Election Commissioner will have presentations from South Africa, Indonesia, Bangladesh, India, Malawi and IFES.
7. It is hoped that interactions and discussions at the International Webinar on 21 Sep 2020 will provide a good opportunity to all the participants to exchange ideas and learn from each others’ experience of holding and managing elections in challenging times of COVID 19 pandemic to ensure free, fair, transparent as well as safe elections.