Seminars, training workshops and assistance missions
On this page:
- Training workshops
- Scientific electoral experts debates
- Electoral assistance missions
- Partnership for Good Governance
The Venice Commission regularly organises thematic seminars in the electoral field. These seminars nad conferences and 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 (in casu of conferences co-organised with the Parliamentary Assembly):
International Parliamentary Conference on the implementation of the right to free elections (Paris, 4-5 June 2015)
The challenge of the implementation of electoral legislation and the respect of Council of Europe standards were central issues of the conference. This event was the first parliamentary conference of this type in the field of elections. Elected representatives of six countries, beneficiaries of the Eastern Partnership and members of the parliamentary assemblies of other member States of the Council of Europe met representatives of electoral administration bodies, non-governmental organisations involved in election observation as well as experts of the Venice Commission, of other institutions of the Council of Europe and representatives of other international organisations.
The topics of the five training sessions were the following:
- the standards of the Council of Europe in the field of elections ;
- how to improve the legal framework and to overcome the difficulties with their implementation by the national authorities;
- electoral campaign: use and abuse of administrative resources, looking for legal solutions and practices;
- incoherencies in the electoral lists and the difficulties linked to citizens voting from abroad, looking for legal solutions and practices;
- the functioning of the electoral administrations and the challenge of neutrality and impartiality, looking for legal solutions and practices.
- Parliamentary conference on media freedom as a cornerstone for democratic elections (Berlin, 4 July 2016)
During this conference, the delegation of the Venice Commission intervened on the questions on legal provisions on medias in the context of elections, on the ethic of medias and on transparency concerning the interests of political parties and on the role of parliaments in media freedom in the context of elections. The conference was hosted by the German federal parliament.
- Regional interparliamentary conference on “Misuse of administrative resources during electoral processes: a major challenge for democratic elections” (London, 9-10 November 2017)
The Parliamentary Assembly and the Venice Commission, in co-operation with the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, organised a regional conference entitled “Misuse of administrative resources during electoral processes: a major challenge for democratic elections”. Members of Parliaments and representatives of the Central electoral commissions of the countries beneficiaries of the Partnership of Good Governance participated in this conference as well as a panel of international experts, specialists in the topic of the conference.
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 have taken place in the following countries: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Republic of North Macedonia and Ukraine.
The Venice Commission holds training workshops in the field of electoral disputes. Since 2015, such training workshops took place, for instance, in Armenia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, the Republic of Moldova, Republic of North Macedonia and Ukraine.
See also: The European Conferences of Electoral Management Bodies
Scientific electoral experts debates
In 2016, in cooperation with the Permanent Electoral Authority of Romania, the Venice Commission initiated a series of scientific electoral experts debates. The Scientific Electoral Experts Debates are intended to become a regular event involving specialists of electoral law from various fields, including academia and electoral management bodies, to discuss issues having both a theoretical and a practical scope. They take place in Romania.
The 1st scientific electoral experts debate took place on 12-13 April 2016 on “Electoral Law and New Technologies: Legal Challenges”.
The debates, which brought together representatives of more than 30 European and Latin American countries, focused on the implications of constitutional and international law principles in the field. Such implications are not limited to the application of the fundamental principles of electoral law (universal, equal, free, secret and direct suffrage, stability of electoral law). They also include more general aspects of constitutional law such as legality, the separation of powers, federalism, as well as access to justice, proportionality and transparency.
The reports delivered on this occasion appeared in a special edition of the scientific "Electoral Expert" review published by the Permanent Electoral Authority of Romania in paper form and online. The Venice Commission and the Permanent Electoral Authority of Romania have decided to organise these debates periodically.
On 3 and 4 May 2018 the Second Scientific Electoral Experts Debates on “Equal suffrage” was held in Sinaia, Romania.
The participants discussed more specifically the following issues:
The various aspects of the principle of equality and their implications in the electoral field;
Equal voting power and allocation of seats to constituencies;
Equality and parity of the sexes;
Equality in a changing environment.
The reports presented during the debates were published in the only European review dedicated to electoral law, the Romanian Journal of Electoral Studies (formerly “Expert Electoral”).
The 3rd Scientific Electoral Experts Debates on “Accessibility of the electoral process” took place on 16 February 2021 online.
The Debates addressed accessibility of the electoral process, which is essential for the implementation of the universal suffrage - one of the main principles of electoral law. The online event approached accessibility from a conceptual point of view and not only as a practical issue, and therefore goes beyond physical accessibility. The reports submitted to the conference will be published in the Romanian Journal of Electoral Studies.
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 on a regular basis to the Central Election Commissions of Albania, Armenia, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. In the latter country, the Venice Commission organised in 2018 13 Roundtables on reform of electoral legislation (one in Kiev and 12 in regional centers) and two training seminars for judges.
In 2017, the Venice Commission, on two occasions, gave long-term assistance to the Election Commission of the “former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”*. In particular, this assistance dealt with the improvement of the review and appeal procedure, the internal procedures of the State Election Commission and the training of electoral commissions and voters.
See also: Support to strengthening democracy through electoral reform in the Kyrgyz Republic
Moreover, according to a 2004 agreement, the Venice Commission takes part as a legal councillor in the election observation missions of the Parliamentary Assembly. In 2018, such missions took place in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Montenegro, “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”* and Turkey.
Partnership for Good Governance
Thanks to the financial support of the European Union, the Council of Europe and more particularly, the Venice Commission from 2015 to 2017 have assisted 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 ‘Partnership for Good Governance’ (“PGG”) and follows a prior co-operation programme also addressed to the Eastern Partnership countries. Five priority areas (or “themes”) of co-operation were identified with the European Union for the PGG. Under these five themes, there was a component devoted to the electoral field where the Venice Commission was particularly active through the organisation of seminars, training workshops and thematic regional conferences. Besides the opinion in the electoral field, the Venice Commission assisted the central election commissions of the beneficiary countries in improving their organisational and legal capacities.
Among the activities organised by the Venice Commission as part of the PGG, the following can be mentioned (besides the opinions of the Venice Commission):
- A regional conference on the misuse of administrative resources during the elections (Tbilisi, 30-31 October 2017);
- Training workshops on electoral disputes in Georgia (15-20 September 2017);
- Long-term assistance to the Central Election Commission of Armenia (February - April 2017);
- A seminar on electoral disputes in the Republic of Moldova (13-15 September 2016);
- Long-term assistance to the Central Election Commission of Armenia (August – September 2016).
*As of 12 February 2019, the official name of the country changed to the Republic of North Macedonia.