New York/La Paz

03 February 2020

Statement by the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations for Bolivia, Jean Arnault

Jean Arnault

As announced by the President of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, Salvador Romero, from today, 3 February, the candidates who will participate in the next general elections will be able to conduct electoral campaign.

Thus, a decisive stage of the electoral process and the consolidation of peace begins in Bolivia. For this to be done successfully, citizens and candidates, regardless of their political affiliation, must be able to exercise their constitutional rights and elect and be elected with full freedom, without abuse, intimidation or discrimination of any kind. The legitimacy of the electoral process will depend on it.

In the political climate that the country is currently experiencing, characterized by an exacerbated polarization and mixed feelings of hope, but also of uncertainty, restlessness and resentment after the serious political and social crisis of last year, to carry out this process with full respect for political rights and fundamental freedoms constitutes an important challenge.

It is up to the authorities, institutions, candidates, political parties and alliances of all trends, social and civic movements, media and the citizens in general, to meet this challenge. It is imperative that an unanimous call arises to debate peacefully and democratically and to avoid any action that violates the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, expression, association, opinion and circulation.

It is of particular importance to outlaw hate speech and direct or indirect incitement to violence or discrimination. Although, amidst the current tensions, these discourses seek short-term partisan goals, they will harm the country's peace, tranquility and democratic governance in the longer term.

For its part, the United Nations will do everything possible to support the country's efforts towards a credible, transparent and inclusive election. In this regard --and with the collaboration and generous support from members of the International Community, including the European Union and other donors -- the United Nations Organization will:

- Provide the Supreme Electoral Tribunal and the Departmental Electoral Tribunals with the technical assistance they deem necessary for the Plurinational Electoral Body, in its different instances, to fulfill its executive and jurisdictional mandate in line with the high expectations that citizens have placed on the new managers of the electoral process.

- Monitor proactively the respect for human rights according to international criteria, particularly in relation to the exercise of the political rights of all participants in the electoral process, regardless of their ideology and political affiliation. Special attention will be given to respecting and guaranteeing due process. In an electoral context it is essential that acts of political persecution are not carried out, including the abuse of judicial procedures.

- Work on the identification, early warning, monitoring and specific follow-up of complaints of political and electoral harassment or violence against women.

- Offer, in coordination with the institutions and civil society, its accompaniment to efforts to resolve conflicts that could lead to a resurgence of violence and thus compromise the integrity of the electoral process. In this regard, it will continue to support the facilitation led by the Episcopal Conference of Bolivia. It will also accompany the dialogue initiatives for the pacification and democratic development of the country.

The Secretary-General and the entire United Nations System have welcomed the aspiration of Bolivian men and women to cease violence and to hold democratic elections. We are firmly committed to fulfilling this aspiration.