Africa

African Election Authorities Launch Comprehensive Guidelines for Digital and Social Media Use in Electoral Processes

The Association of African Election Authorities, in collaboration with the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC), has unveiled

African Election Authorities Launch Comprehensive Guidelines for Digital and Social Media Use in Electoral Processes

The Association of African Election Authorities, in collaboration with the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC), has unveiled “The Principles and Guidelines for the Use of Digital and Social Media in Elections in Africa.” This landmark initiative aims to equip Election Management Bodies (EMBs) and relevant electoral stakeholders with the necessary tools to harness the benefits of social media while mitigating the negative impacts of emerging digital technologies in electoral processes.

These Principles and Guidelines serve as a human rights-inspired framework, providing non-binding yet persuasive directives to address the normative gap surrounding the utilization and implications of digital and social media in African elections. Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is actively participating in this continent-wide initiative, with Dr. Sa’ad Umar Idris, Director-General of the INEC Electoral Institute (TEI), representing the commission.

Dr. Sa’ad’s presentation on “principles and guidelines for the use of digital and social media in elections: the INEC Nigeria experience” will delve into INEC’s extensive experiences, particularly analyzing the role of social media in shaping the outcome of the 2023 general election.

The genesis of these Principles and Guidelines stems from the recommendations put forth during the inaugural Continental Conference for Election Management Bodies, held in Cape Town, South Africa, in March 2020. Themed “Safeguarding Electoral Integrity in the Digital Age: Strategies for Combatting Digital Disinformation,” the conference was jointly organized by the Electoral Commission of South Africa, the African Union Commission (AUC), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Derived from an inclusive consultative process involving EMBs and electoral stakeholders across the African continent, these Guidelines underscore the imperative of utilizing social media to bolster EMBs’ credibility and engender trust among stakeholders. Additionally, they highlight the perils of social media misuse, advocating for responsible journalism and accountability among platform owners and users.

Furthermore, the Guidelines advocate for the adoption of clear and comprehensive strategies by African EMBs to ensure the responsible use of social media during electoral periods, thus safeguarding the integrity and credibility of electoral processes across the continent.

Quest: Cris-Edesiri Odjomah

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