USD$2.25 million to boost Vanuatu’s Electoral Office

A ballot box in the village of Teouma for Vanuatu's 2016 election. Picture: RNZI / Jamie Tahana

PORT VILA, 27 JUNE 2018 (UNDP) – A commitment of USD$2.25 million made by the Government of New Zealand towards supporting the work of the Vanuatu Electoral Office will support the capacity development of the Electoral Office and the Electoral Commission.

The announcement was made through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Vanuatu Electoral Environment Project (VEEP), which is currently implementing activities in several areas that encompasses increasing and improving civic education and voter awareness in Vanuatu, strengthening the institutional capacities of electoral authorities and enhancing the voter registry.

The VEEP, which focuses on activities to strengthen the Vanuatu Electoral Office (VEO), was launched in 2017 with some initial funding from UNDP.

The Principal Electoral Officer in the Vanuatu Electoral Office, Charles Vatu was excited about the prospects and opportunities this new funding support will facilitate.

“I am so absolutely delighted that the Government of New Zealand has confirmed that they will be funding this important project,” said Vatu.

“The Vanuatu Electoral Office has identified a number of areas where it would like to improve the electoral system in Vanuatu including the voter registry and strengthening voter and civic education.”

He added, “The funding from the Government of New Zealand will allow the UNDP project to assist the Office with this work and improve our capacity throughout the electoral cycle.”

Through the project, UNDP will also provide support to develop a legal framework for regulation of political parties in Vanuatu and implement related activities.

New Zealand High Commissioner to Vanuatu, Jonathan Schwass, said VEEP would help significantly to build up Vanuatu’s electoral system and machinery.

“The project will also support the Government of Vanuatu to advance its Political Parties Bill, an important piece of legislation which is intended to increase political stability in the longer term,” he said.

Echoing the sentiments of the Vanuatu Electoral Office, the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji Country Director and Head of Pacific Regional Programmes and Policy, Bakhodir Burkhanov highlighted how the electoral project is helping Vanuatu progress in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

“Throughout the Pacific, there is recognition that development and good governance go hand in hand. SDG 16 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development stresses the need to build accountable and inclusive institutions as well as ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making,” said Burkhanov.

“I would like to thank the Government of New Zealand for their commitment and support to strengthening the electoral system in Vanuatu through the UNDP project.”

He added, “The UNDP Vanuatu Electoral Environment Project contributes to ongoing work in Vanuatu to make SDG 16 a reality.”

The UNDP Vanuatu Electoral Environment Project started in 2017 and will run until December 2020.

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