UN Volunteers to collaborate with peace monitors as part of concerted efforts towards Peaceful Elections in Kenya
In democratic governance, elections have long been heralded as a hallmark of representative democracy with citizens having the opportunity to freely elect leaders of their choice. Elections provide a crucial opportunity for citizens to shape their governing structures as well as fashion leadership that resonates with their aspirations and developmental vision. At its best the electoral process can be an enabling mechanism where citizens have a voice to decide and make a choice of elected representatives based on issues and policies that drive development at national or community level.
However, as witnessed in the past experiences, elections can also be triggers for violence and widespread instability if not well managed, with implications of widespread costs for any country. This clearly necessitates active efforts geared towards prevention of electoral violence.
In preparation for the 2017 elections, and as part of ongoing support to Strengthening National Capacities for Conflict Prevention by the United Nations Development Programme, the “Deepening Foundations for Peacebuilding and Community Security” programme has been under implementation through the National Directorate for Peace Building and Conflict Management (NSC/PBCM), with multiple national and local partners.
To align with devolution and embed peace and cohesion infrastructures within the County Governments and community structures for enhanced conflict sensitivity and protection of human rights, the programme is currently expanding the institutional mechanisms for coordination, Risks Assessment and Early Warning and Response in 2017 elections and beyond. The 47 Counties clustered into 12 Zones have deployed Peace and Cohesion Coordinators and Analysts with the requisite capacities for coordination, monitoring, and provision of early warning support to the Counties.
12 United Nations (UN) Volunteers have so far been deployed as part of the Cluster Coordinators with the support of the Swedish Development Agency (SIDA), the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DfID) and Kenya’s Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government. The 12 UN Volunteers will collaborate with a team of more than 200 peace and cohesion monitors across the country to facilitate the prevention of electoral violence. They will serve as strategic linkage for National Steering Committee (NSC) and National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) and programme partners to key actors and County institutions at the County Levels. 'I will be part of creating linkages for Early Warning SMS system between the community structures and the response agencies in a bid to enhance electoral violence reduction initiatives’. Nelly Waiya, the UN Volunteer peace coordinator for Nairobi County
Additionally, as part of the Cluster Coordinators, the UN Volunteers will support County Peace and Cohesion Forums and ensure Peace Structures at the county, sub county, ward and village levels are established and constituted as per the county conflict prevention, management and resolution strategies.
While making his remarks at the closing ceremony of the two-day training for the elections peace monitors, Mr. Siddharth Chatterjee, the UN Resident Representative, acknowledged the wide scope of stakeholders engaged in the peace process and congratulated the peace monitors for their dedication in protecting and nurturing Kenya’s democracy. He encouraged the peace coordinators to be agents of peace, and help nurture constructive political discourses based on the foundation of trust and mutual respect among all citizens.
Mr. Chatterjee further noted that, “For the first time, we are witnessing strategic shift from ad hoc and fragmentation to a coordinated approach in order to maximize the different knowledge, skills and influence you all bring to bear on promoting peaceful environment for elections.”
Story by Kevin Ochieng, UNV Kenya Programme Support Officer