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Opening of the Eighth Inter-American Meeting of Electoral Management Bodies

  September 18, 2012

Forty-three representatives from 23 countries across the Americas convened Tuesday morning for the opening session of the Eighth Inter-American Meeting of Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs) being jointly hosted by the Organization of American States and The Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ), in Montego Bay.

The two day meeting, being held for the first time in the Caribbean, aims to promote the exchange of knowledge, experiences and practices of electoral administrations in the region. The main topics to be discussed are: the role of EMBs in candidate selection processes and vote counting, data transmission and preliminary results reporting.

In welcoming the participants to the Caribbean, ECJ Chairman Errol Miller highlighted the significant improvements and unique principles of Jamaica’s electoral process including the establishment and composition of the Commission.

Chairman Miller added that he was delighted to host the meeting during the celebrations to mark Jamaica’s 50th Anniversary of Independence as it provided an opportunity for reflection, inspiration and commitment to the future.

Also speaking at the official opening session, the OAS Secretary of Political Affairs, Kevin Casas-Zamora, said the meeting was a wonderful example of the value that the OAS can offer its Member States. “What we are doing here is one of the things that the OAS is uniquely well positioned to do. We are bringing together a hemisphere-wide network of experts and practitioners to share their experiences. In doing so, we are facilitating the forging of cross-border alliances, the dissemination of best practices, and the comparison of our ways of doing things with those of our peers, a tough but vital discipline that if followed consistently nearly always leads to self-improvement”, Casas-Zamora noted.

He added: “We have come to the Caribbean to give testimony that democracy is arguably the most important thread that binds our hemisphere today, one that transcends the boundaries of language, ethnicity and nationhood. We have come to Jamaica and to the Caribbean to assert that, no matter where we come from, democracy is the lingua franca of the Western Hemisphere.”

Delivering remarks on behalf of the Minister with responsibility for electoral matters, Phillip Paulwell, State Minister Julian Robinson expressed that while Jamaica can now boast a world-class electoral system, three significant challenges still remain: the underrepresentation of women, the accountability of elected candidates and the lack of political participation among youth.

“Today, I challenge every nation represented here to focus on the strengthening of the electoral processes in the hemisphere, cognizant that at the heart of our democracy is our electoral system. It is imperative that we not only put our electoral system on solid footing, but also expand our democracies by making our systems more inclusive and our elected representatives more accountable,” Minister Robinson noted.

The Canadian International Development Agency and International IDEA assisted in funding the meeting.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-318/12