Conflict prevention and mitigation during the electoral cycle in Sierra Leone

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Concerned with ensuring a peaceful and secure environment during the 2018 electoral process in Sierra Leone, this project has been contributing to the establishment of key mechanisms for the safeguard of democratic governance and to the reinforcement of a culture of tolerance in the country.

Gender Equality , Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Sierra Leone has achieved significant institutional reforms in democratic governance, human rights, transparency and accountability, including the accomplishment of three successive peaceful and credible elections since the end of its civil war in 2002. The withdrawal of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone in 2014 was a strong indication of the international community’s confidence in the gains the country has made towards peace and equitable prosperity. Despite these achievements, Sierra Leone’s peace and sustainable development remain fragile. In this context, the 2018 electoral cycle was to be the first one without a Security Council mandate since 2002 and following the 2014 Ebola outbreak.

The “Conflict prevention and mitigation during the electoral cycle” project supported the Government, the people, electoral-management bodies and other institutions in Sierra Leone to ensure that the 2018 elections could be prepared and conducted peacefully. Given the low level of civic awareness expressed in previous elections, attention has focused on human rights and the representation of women, youth and people with disabilities (who are often excluded from political processes), and their roles in preventing violence. Training and logistics were provided for early-warning and response systems, including the strengthening of a national situation room, along with support to the judiciary to enable the rapid resolution of election-related disputes, and the creation of high-level platforms dedicated to preventing violence.

An independent Political Parties Registration Committee (PPRC) was supported to facilitate the signing of codes of conducts for political parties, women and youths, followed by the establishment of District Code Monitoring Committees (DCMCs) across the country to provide oversight and monitoring of political parties’ compliance with the codes of conduct. The PPRC hosted in February 2018 a high-level dialogue that was led by the former President of Ghana, H.E. John Mahama, with the top leaderships of political parties, which resulted in the signing of a peace pledge by the presidential candidates.

The Eminent Persons Group (EPG), an independent assembly of individuals with no political affiliation, was also established. This structure was instrumental in enhancing dialogue and mediation between political parties and significantly contributing to high-level prevention and mitigation of electoral violence. Given that the EPG was stationed at the national level, it played a significant role in creating a link with the local-level DCMCs to promote effective communication, dialogue and mitigation of electoral violence across the country.

A Women’s Situation Room (WSR) was also established to provide a platform for women’s groups to strategize, lobby, plan and refer potential violence against women rapidly and in a coordinated manner. The WSR established a network of women peace activists (national and international) who were equipped with the required skills and knowledge to prevent and respond to violence during elections.

A study tour involving the Government and implementing partners was conducted to Ghana in September 2017 to better understand election security and preparedness. The group raised its awareness regarding the avoidance of private armed bodyguards during the electoral cycle, engaging instead with political parties on finding alternatives. The discussions also reaffirmed the necessity of key elements already planned in the “Conflict prevention and mitigation” project.
The visit also included fruitful exchanges with:
– five main political parties in Ghana, through UNDP Ghana’s political-party strengthening project;
– the Electoral Commission of Ghana, who shared their experience on managing political competition and engaging with political parties; and
– the Ghana Police, who shared their experience on working with political parties on the security of candidates and the use of non-government security operatives.

Sierra Leone

United Nations Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) , Department for International Development (DfID , Government of the UK) , Government of Norway and Government of Canada

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and Ministry of Internal Affairs of Sierra Leone

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