In 2020, Bolivia experienced an electoral participation rate of 88.4 per cent in the national elections, followed by 85.9 per cent in the sub-national elections in 2021. Find out what role 10 UN Volunteers, 12 Online Volunteers and 35 civil society volunteers played in this achievement.
The UN system in Bolivia is implementing the UN Peacebuilding Initiative through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and UN Women. Under the leadership of the Resident Coordinator's Office and the UN Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy, the initiative supporting dialogue and human rights for peace building in Bolivia also has the financial support of strategic partners and the UN Peacebuilding Fund.
The Peace Initiative sought to achieve transparent and inclusive elections based on three components: electoral assistance, human rights and gender equality monitoring and support for dialogue efforts. Together with the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme, all of the components integrated volunteers to achieve the objectives, including:
Efforts must be collective. To implement the first component of the Initiative, the agencies drew on 10 international UN Volunteers, coming mainly from the Global South and under the Specialist and Expert categories. Given their broad experience in electoral processes, they supported the Supreme Electoral Body and nine Departmental Electoral Bodies with technical and communication assistance.
Not without the citizens. These efforts also resulted in 350 electoral dialogues. More than 10,500 people from women’s associations, indigenous communities and political parties, among others, took part. The dialogues contributed to the restoration of trust and transparency and the promotion of citizen participation.
Keeping eyes and ears open. “We also contributed by monitoring the human rights situation in the electoral context. UN Volunteers were an integral part of this team through local volunteering and the online volunteering platform”, explains Antonio Menendez, Chief of the Technical Mission of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Bolivia. Twelve Online Volunteers and 35 civil society volunteers from the Voluntariado en Acción network (Volunteering in Action) were part of the Human Rights pillar of the project.
"This monitoring was carried out by examining the main local and international media outlets, as well as social media networks. Together, we identified possible incidents on election day, thus contributing to the construction of a culture of peace," comments Úrsula Milencia Lecoña Condori, a volunteer from Voluntariado en Acción.
The diversity of volunteer profiles was a key factor in tailoring the response to Bolivia’s electoral situation. "UNV permitted us to access a wide variety of technical profiles with great expertise in electoral administration in different UN contexts. This allowed us to combine UNV talent with out national UNDP personnel and create the perfect team to respond to the challenge," notes Luciana Mermet, UNDP Representative in Bolivia.
All volunteers were deployed in a timely manner and quickly adapted to the context’s demands. National and international talent, online and onsite, from the UN System or civil society representatives, all contributed to democratic elections in Bolivia.
Once more, the UN System in Bolivia, through UNDP, OHCHR and UN Women, bet on volunteerism to foster citizen participation, the access to the right of representation and peacebuilding
This article was translated with the kind support of Online Volunteer Bryan Parrish.