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Department of Political Affairs

Who provides UN electoral assistance

United Nations electoral assistance is a system-wide endeavor, tapping the complementary expertise and capacities of many parts of the UN family. These include:

The Department of Political Affairs (DPA)

The Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs and head of DPA serves as the UN Focal Point for electoral assistance, and is supported in that function by DPA’s Electoral Assistance Division. All requests for UN electoral assistance must be forwarded to the Under-Secretary-General, whose role is mainly two-fold: advising the Secretary-General on requests from Member States; and ensuring consistency in the delivery of UN electoral assistance. In addition to its broad coordination role in electoral assistance, DPA oversees field-based political missions that in many cases engage in electoral assistance activities as part of their conflict prevention or peace-building mandates.

The Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO)

In peacekeeping and many post-conflict environments, assistance is generally provided through electoral components of field missions under the aegis of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. In those cases, EAD works closely with DPKO in planning and managing electoral support aspects of peacekeeping operations.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

UNDP is the major implementing body for UN electoral support, providing technical assistance, mainly in development contexts; but often as important parts of integrated peacekeeping operations. It manages some 40 to 50 field-based electoral projects per year. UNDP also engages with Member States on long-term capacity development, including the strengthening of electoral management bodies between elections. At the local level, the UNDP Country Offices play a key role in the coordination of electoral assistance. In addition to its field-based activities, UNDP produces important analysis on election-related issues.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

The role of OHCHR in electoral assistance consists mainly in monitoring the human rights situation in a country, before, during and after elections in order to foster an environment conducive to credible elections and ensure the respect of relevant international standards. OHCHR also produces guidelines on human rights standards applicable to elections.

United Nations Volunteers (UNV)

The UNV programme provides critical substantive and operational support for UN electoral field operations, complementing the staffing of such operations with experienced professionals, often in large numbers, and in very short deployment time frames. The Electoral Assistance Division works closely with UNV in selecting personnel for volunteer posts in electoral field missions. Persons registered with UNV are eligible for a variety of volunteer positions in electoral field projects and operations.

The United Nations Office of Project Services (UNOPS)

UNOPS is a service provider to the UN system and its Member States. UNOPS has provided operational and other support to electoral assistance in a number of countries and often works in close cooperation with UNDP on electoral assistance activities. UNOPS’ flexibility and responsiveness are great assets for the UN system in implementing electoral assistance activities.