In the development sector, efforts to improve the skills, knowledge, tools, or other resources of individuals or organizations are commonly referred to as “capacity building”. In line with its mission, ANFREL carries out capacity building programs for civil society groups, media, and other relevant actors supporting free and fair elections or democracy in Asia.
We believe that capacity building for local stakeholders is one of the most important elements in democratization, as democracy is more likely to succeed with meaningful engagement from the community and its citizens. Our programs are designed to utilize ANFREL’s vast network of democracy advocates and election experts throughout and beyond Asia, with a focus on experience sharing and the promotion of innovations and best practices related to elections.
In that perspective, ANFREL regularly holds workshops for domestic election observers, covering topics ranging from international election standards to the rights and duties of observers, practical considerations for deployment in the field, or security challenges in restrictive environments. Our first capacity building workshop was held in Timor-Leste for domestic observers. Since then, dozens of these workshops, either country-specific or theme-based, took place with a diverse background of participants.
To accompany these workshops and further empower civil society organizations or media professionals monitoring elections, ANFREL has produced throughout the years a number of election observation handbooks and toolkits. The first was published in 2015 for domestic election observers in Myanmar, and updated in 2019. During our election observation missions, we also strive to offer mentoring opportunities for domestic election observers and young volunteers. However, ANFREL’s mandate and independence dictate that we cannot offer support for political parties or other non-neutral groups.
Under its Capacity Building division, ANFREL has established the Asian Electoral Resource Center (AERC), a database of all election-related materials to assist the advancement of democracy and free elections in Asia. Resources compiled in the AERC can hopefully support the work of any stakeholder seeking to promote the cause of electoral democracy.
Finally, ANFREL engages in other capacity building projects, sometimes alongside its member organizations, to enhance voter awareness, strategies for electoral reform, or the skills of election management bodies, depending on the needs highlighted in a certain country or region. For instance, ANFREL was committed to supporting human rights advocates from Myanmar long before the country’s democratic transition, with workshops held in neighboring countries such as Thailand or India.
You can access our handbooks and other capacity building resources via the following link.