Seminars, training workshops and assistance missions
The Venice Commission regularly organises thematic seminars in the electoral field. These seminars aim at disseminating the principles and recommendations of the Europe’s Electoral Heritage, which are mainly based on the Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters, the reference document of the Venice Commission in the electoral field.
Here are a few examples:
UniDem Seminar on supervising the electoral process (Madrid, Spain, 24-25 April 2009)
This Seminar was organised in the framework of the Spanish Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, in co-operation with the Centre for political and constitutional studies, the Ministry for the Presidency and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Spain.
This conference brought together around thirty high level experts in the electoral field from Europe and America, in particular presidents and members of international jurisdictions, Constitutional and Supreme courts and electoral courts. It enabled comparisons to be made between solutions adopted on both continents on the issue of supervision of the electoral process, in particular disputes and control of the financing of electoral campaigns.
The following subjects were discussed: the bodies responsible for electoral supervision, in particular judicial ones; the role of the international judicial instances in guaranteeing the quality of the electoral process; specialised economic control: the control of electoral campaign financing; and electoral disputes.
In the framework of the Albanian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, the Commission organised in co-operation with the National Assembly and the Central Election Commission of Albania a Conference at the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters.
Around 50 participants participated in this event. Ten years after the adoption by the Venice Commission of the Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters, the Council of Europe’s reference document in this field, the Conference focused on its implementation. For this purpose, three specific themes were thereafter dealt with: election administration; case-study on the representativeness of elected bodies; and the Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters in the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights.
Seminar on the use of administrative resources during electoral processes (Tbilisi, Georgia, 17-18 May 2013)
The Venice Commission organised the fourth Eastern Partnership Facility Seminar in co-operation with the Central Election Commission of Georgia.
Representatives from the central election commissions of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Moldova took part in this Seminar. The seminar dealt with the issue of the misuse of administrative resources during electoral processes, based on the preliminary Report on the use of administrative resources during electoral campaigns (meanwhile adopted in December 2013).
The Venice Commission holds training workshops on the organisation of elections which are addressed to people in charge of implementing electoral legislation. These workshops aim at ensuring the practical implementation of the principles of Europe’s Electoral Heritage. So far such workshops took place in the following countries: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, "the former Republic of Macedonia" and Ukraine.
For instance, the Venice Commission provided assistance to the Central Election Commission of Albania from February to July 2013, by making available two experts who notably provided assistance to the Training Unit of the Central Election Commission, developed and delivered a programme of Training for Trainers for election commissioners at territorial and local levels. This consisted in drafting training modules and manuals for members of territorial and local commissions. It also consisted in holding training sessions for trainers to members of the Central Election Commission as well as members of territorial and local commissions.
Another example is the contribution of the Venice Commission to a training seminar on election disputes resolution in Tunis, Tunisia, on 10-11 September 2014. This seminar dealt with candidate’s disputes and disputes on results. It was organised by the technical assistance team of the European Union, the International Foundation for Electoral systems (IFES), the Venice Commission and the Swiss Embassy in Tunisia in partnership with the Administrative Tribunal of Tunis.
The European Conference of Electoral Management Bodies
The European Conference of Electoral Management Bodies (“the EMB Conference”) is a key annual event in the electoral field organised jointly by the Venice Commission and the electoral management body of the hosting country. This event takes place in a different country each year. The EMB Conference aims at strengthening the network among the electoral management bodies in Europe and beyond. The EMB Conference also aims at debating and promoting the principles of Europe’s Electoral Heritage.
For this purpose, the EMB Conference annually gathers more than 100 representatives of electoral management bodies and international institutions acting in the electoral field, from Europe and beyond. The EMB Conference consists of working and plenary sessions, where participants can present their experience of electoral processes and debate on potential improvements of the electoral processes held in their respective countries.
Here are the topics dealt with these last years:
Special focus : the 12th European Conference of EMBs:
“Ensuring neutrality, impartiality and transparency in elections: the role of EMBs”
The 12th European Conference of Electoral Management Bodies, co-organised by the Venice Commission and the Ministry of Security and Interior of Belgium, took place in Brussels, Belgium, on 30-31 March 2015.
More than 160 participants, representatives of 60 countries and several international institutions – including chairs and members of central election commissions and administrations from Europe and beyond – held an exchange of views on the standards for neutral, impartial and transparent elections and good practices addressing the functioning of electoral management bodies.
The 12th EMB Conference concluded by inviting the electoral management bodies, lawmakers and political parties to improve laws and practices in order to provide better guarantees for neutral, impartial and transparent elections. These principles are central to the Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters. This Code, which was drafted by the Venice Commission, is the Council of Europe reference document in the field. It was approved by the Parliamentary Assembly, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities and supported by the Committee of Ministers.
Mr Jan Jambon, Vice Prime-Minister and Minister of Security and Interior of Belgium, and Ambassador Astrid Emilie Helle, Permanent Representative of Norway to the Council of Europe, Chair of the Rapporteurs Group on Democracy of the Committee of Ministers opened the Conference. Mr Gianni Buquicchio, President of the Venice Commission, participated in the opening panel as well. Several of the European Union’s institutions including the European Parliament and the European External Action Service also attended, as well as the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe/Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR), the Organization of American States, the Association of European Election Officials (ACEEEO), International IDEA and other institutions active in the electoral field.
The 13th European Conference of Electoral Management Bodies took place on 14-15 April 2016 in Bucharest, Romania.
The 14th European Conference of Electoral Management Bodies will take place on 15-16 May 2017 in St-Petersbourg, Russian Federation.
Electoral assistance missions
The Venice Commission assists national authorities in the implementation of electoral legislation when required. For example, the Venice Commission gave its assistance to the Central Election Commission of Georgia on a regular basis in the context of various electoral cycles since 2003. The Venice Commission also assisted the Central Electoral Commission of Albania, in particular in 2012. It also regularly assisted the Central Electoral Commission of Moldova and provided assistance to the Central Electoral Commission of Ukraine, among other countries.
Joint EU- Council of Europe Programmatic Cooperation Framework
Thanks to the financial support of the European Union, the Council of Europe and more particularly the Venice Commission assist since April 2014 the national institutions of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine in implementing domestic reforms to bring them closer to the standards of the Council of Europe and the European Union in the fields of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
This joint programme is called the ‘Programmatic Cooperation Framework’ (“the PCF”) and follows a prior co-operation programme also addressed to the Eastern Partnership countries. Five priority areas (or “themes”) of cooperation were identified with the European Union for the PCF. Under these five themes, there is a component devoted to the electoral field where the Venice Commission is particularly active through the organisation of seminars, training workshops and thematic regional conferences. Among other partners, the Venice Commission assists the central election commissions of the beneficiary countries in improving their organisational and legal capacities.
For instance, on 26-29 May 2015, the Commission organised in Moldova training sessions on election dispute resolution for proxies, i.e. delegates of political parties participating in the local elections.
On 23-24 November 2015, the Venice Commission holds in cooperation with the Central Election Commission of Georgia a regional conference on Gender Equality. This Conference aims at debating on the domestic laws and practices that may be improved in electoral processes in order to ensure gender equality.