Building Trust and Communications in the CCM Elections

By: Keren Dunaway

To build capacity and empower members of civil society organizations and communities in implementing transparent and democratic selection processes within the Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM), the virtual workshop “Strengthening Democratic Participation in the Election of Civil Society Organization Representatives in CCMs” was held June 24th, 2024. This workshop aimed to share lessons learned and recommended practices based on the experiences of Jamaica and Colombia, as well as to create a roadmap using the toolkit.

According to the CCM Hub, represented by associate specialist Miriam Inez Leal, CCMs in the LAC region exceed the committed level regarding electoral processes and good governance, demonstrating strong engagement and functional bidirectional communication. However, they highlighted the need to consider which representatives from the government, civil society, the private sector, and other stakeholders can contribute more effectively to the CCM decision-making process, considering the role and importance of the partnership between these sectors and the priorities of the grants.

Regarding past processes and the experiences of Colombia, Dr. Hanna Henao noted that the CCM election results showed strong prioritization of key individuals with high participation from various sectors and territories, with 157 civil society representatives. A special focus was given to strengthening the capacities of civil society. However, some challenges were highlighted, such as the lack of trust in the CCM and a lack of understanding of its functions, as well as insufficient willing representatives in all sectors. She recommended, “It is necessary to update the registers of people belonging to key populations and the contexts where information can be provided (meeting places, workplaces, health services, community spaces, working groups, etc.) by sub-sector.”

In Jamaica, consultant Tameka Clough pointed out that the process results differed due to time management issues with tight deadlines. However, the key strategy was to ensure sufficient time for candidate-led voter mobilization. In the Jamaican context, she added, “only one of the four candidates received the majority of votes from several key organizations”, indicating that their mobilization mechanism was more advanced given the short voting period.

Additionally, for the didactic objective of strategies for creating a roadmap using the Toolkit: Recommendations for Developing Democratic Elections of CSO and Key Population Representatives to the Country Coordinating Mechanism, consultant Alfredo Mejia detailed that the document outlines the detailed programming of necessary activities to develop a transparent, democratic, participatory, and documented election process for civil society and key population representatives in the CCM. This is done to describe the progress of the process over time and in advance. Mejia emphasized the importance of establishing a communication mechanism to address and respond promptly to doubts and concerns. In case of any disagreement, it should be brought to the Ad Hoc Election Committee for resolution. He recommended that “It is essential to respond to everyone. It is crucial to have predetermined criteria for resolving ties. For example, if two candidates receive an equal number of votes, the Ad Hoc Election Committee will appoint the representative with the most experience in their sector; gender balance, when applicable, can be another criterion. If any position remains vacant, the CCM Assembly should be informed to guide the next steps. Each activity described in the roadmap should be assigned specific dates and even times if necessary.”

Creating a communication strategy to inform stakeholders, holding briefing sessions to outline the electoral process and eligibility criteria, preparing an electoral census, and providing guidelines for candidate nomination and the campaign process are also crucial. Furthermore, ensuring a transparent voting process and the timely announcement of results is vital.