ECES has co-developed a methodology on “Peace Mediation for Electoral Processes” which is the first practical contribution to guide mediation and electoral support actors on opportunities and risks to support-, fund-, or conduct peace mediation in electoral processes.

While mediation is often an open-ended process entered into freely, largely dictated by the commitment and will of conflict parties, electoral processes on the other hand are lined with many cut-off dates and unfold according to an electoral calendar that often cannot be changed: the electoral calendar begs mediation support to fit into a frame that it may not be familiar with.

The methodology is based on concrete cases of peace mediation in electoral processes to draw lessons of common risks and windows of opportunities for conflict settlement around the electoral cycle. It thereby fills an important gap by offering concrete guidance when attempting to mediate – or support peace mediation efforts in electoral processes or crises that arise or escalate due to flawed elections.

The methodology unpacks peace mediation opportunities and risks in electoral processes in unprecedented detail. It uses the electoral cycle, and each of its phases; common electoral systems and legal frameworks to look at potential entry points – and challenges to avoid for peace mediation efforts. The methodology also looks at the electoral and mediation vocabulary and suggest ways to render the language of electoral and mediation actors more conflict-sensitive.

Mediation support – and mediation actors - in electoral processes overlook technical aspects of elections in fragile countries at times, in particular the legal framework and electoral system as well as the electoral calendar. Mediation actors may risk misjudging both the entry points to resolve or de-escalate conflict but may also face limitations in assessing and staying clear of major risks that would appear more obvious to electoral experts. The latter would however not have any mandate to advise on, or actively engage in mediation processes.

The peace mediation in electoral processes methodology does not suggest that electoral and mediation actors should coordinate or interact in a particular way: there are sensitivities around perceptions of impartiality since both strands of activities are highly sensitive political processes. To bridge the fact that there might be strong sensitivities on the ground that warrants a distance between mediation and electoral actors - at least those commissioned, affiliated or hired directly by the EU or EU funded activities (or its Member States) - this methodology aims to give actors on both sides sufficient insights not to miss obvious risks or opportunities for conflict settlement in electoral processes.    

Our methodology can be structured as a training curriculum and offered as personal coaching or to a larger group.  The Peace mediation in Electoral Processes methodology is a lens that can be applied to any context in order to offer more concrete and practical guidance to see – and increase opportunities for timely conflict settlement – and stay clear of common pitfalls within both mediation and electoral support. As such, the methodology is well suited to complement conflict analysis.

ECES has collaborated with Victoria Florinder, Senior Electoral and Peace Mediation expert in developing the Peace mediation in Electoral Processes methodology.

You can download here the short description of the methodology and practical guide