Chief Election Commissioner, Shri Sunil Arora today assumed Chairmanship of Association of World Election Bodies (AWEB) for the term 2019-21 as India takes over the Chair from Romania. India was unanimously nominated to be the Chair of AWEB at the last General Assembly held at Bucharest in 2017. The AWEB Flag was handed over to the new Chairman, Sh. Sunil Arora by the Representative of Outgoing Chair, Mr. Ion Mincu Radulescu, Advisor, Permanent Election Authority Romania. The Flag will remain with Election Commission of India for the two year term till 2021. More than 110 delegates from 45 countries attended the meeting. On this occasion, CEC Sh Sunil Arora along with the two Election Commissioners of India Sh. Ashok Lavasa and Sh. Sushil Chandra and Senior Deputy Election Commissioner Sh Umesh Sinha also launched ECI’s quarterly magazine – ‘VOICE International’ which shares best practices from more than 25 Countries..
Convening the General Assembly as the new Chairman of AWEB, Sh Sunil Arora acknowledged that it was his privilege and pleasure to welcome all delegates to Bengaluru for the AWEB meetings. Citing Mahatma Gandhi’s writings, Sh Arora said “Democracy must in essence mean the art and science of mobilizing the entire physical, economic and spiritual resources of all the various sections of the people in the service of the common good of all”. Sh Arora also noted that the very Preamble of AWEB Charter spells out the vision of AWEB wherein it mentions the need for strengthening cooperation between and among EMBs for the purpose of ensuring a credible electoral process in the world; committing to promote conditions conducive to free, fair, transparent and participative elections and to the development of a democratic culture in the world; promoting gender equality and the inclusion of People with Disabilities and other marginalized communities in the electoral process. More than two-third of global population now lives under democratic rule, he noted.
Accepting the responsibility as Chairman of AWEB, Sh Arora said ECI looks forward to further strengthening its interaction and partnership with AWEB Secretariat and member EMBs in promoting the activities of the Association as per its objectives and empowering the fellow EMBs through its capacity building programmes. He thanked the Members for the trust and confidence reposed in the Election Commission of India.
The General Assembly also ratified the appointment of the new Vice Chairman of AWEB – Mr. Glen Vuma Mashinini, Chairperson of Election Commission of South Africa and the new Secretary General , Mr Jonghyun Choe, from Republic of Korea. Bidding farewell to Outgoing Secretary General Mr. Yong-Hi Kim A-WEB, Sh Arora complimented Mr Kim for steering the Secretariat in a professional and efficient manner and expanding the activities of A-WEB. Sh Arora placed on record deep gratitude to the Outgoing Chairman Mr. Constantin – Florin Mituletu – Buica, Hon’ble President of the Permanent Electoral Authority of Romania for having shouldered the responsibility of the Chairperson of AWEB for the last two years. Sh Arora commended the other Executive Board Members, as well as the Oversight and Audit Committee members for their valuable and professional contribution in the working of the A-WEB. Sh Arora assured the new team that he would extend wholehearted support and handholding as and when required to carry forward the ideals of AWEB.
The 4th General Assembly of AWEB held at Bengaluru welcomed the EMBs from Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dominican Republic, Bosnia and Herzegovina, to the Executive Board. EMBs from Burkina Faso, Mauritius and Samoa have been admitted to the Oversight and Audit Committee. EMBs from Ukraine, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Political Parties Registration Commission of Sierra Leone, Indonesia and Mauritius joined the A-WEB family as Members and the Association of Asian Election Authorities (AAEA) as an Associate Member.
Sh Arora also noted that a number of nascent democracies are still working on to stabilize their political system through improving their electoral and legal systems. Shri Arora highlighted “This is where organizations such as A-WEB provide valuable contribution, professional support and advice by sharing innovations, experience and skills with support from and participation of its Members. Free, fair, credible and professionally managed elections form the bedrock of a healthy and vibrant democracy” Since its inception in October 2013, A-WEB has marched ahead empowering the democratic framework of member countries. With 120 EMBs from 111 countries as its Members and 21 International Organisations as Associate Members, it has truly become the largest global organisation of Election Management Bodies providing momentum to the spread of electoral democracy, the Chair noted.
Shri Arora announced that an AWEB Centre would be setup at the India International Institute of Democracy and Election Management, New Delhi for documentation, research and training; for sharing best practices and capacity building among the members EMBs of the Association. The Institute has already conducted over 750 training programmes for over 27,000 election officials in India besides organising 62 International Capacity Building Programmes for over 1165 election officials from 96 countries. Standard training modules for National & International participants are developed by a renowned team of Indian and International experts. The members greatly appreciated the generous offer from India to support capacity building program for other countries.
In his concluding remarks, Shri Arora again thanked all the Chief Election Commissioners and delegates of the EMBs coming from all over the World and spending their valuable time for the deliberations in the EB meeting and General Assembly. He reiterated India’s commitment towards deepening of Democracies worldwide and said that India will do its best to carry forward the vision and objectives of AWEB.
India, the host nation for 4th general assembly, has been one of the founding members of the A-WEB. India hosted the three day AWEB meetings in Bengaluru. The International Conference on “Initiatives and Challenges of Social Media and Information Technology in Elections” will be held on 04th September, 2019, the concluding day of the AWEB meetings.