UN support to elections in Nepal dates back to the 1990s, when it coordinated and supported international observers during the national elections. In April 2008, Nepal held its first Constituent Assembly (CA) election since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2006 to elect a constituent assembly mandated to draft a new constitution. The 2008 elections were conducted successfully by the Election Commission with significant assistance and technical support from the Electoral Assistance Office of the United Nations Mission in Nepal. Following the elections, UNDP initiated a three-year Electoral Support Project (ESP) Phase I, to extend comprehensive support to the Election Commission in materializing the electoral process in the spirit of democratic principles. As the need was felt to expand the role of ESP beyond its duration, the project was revised and extended till 2018 to meet the current requirements of the Election Commission.
While the project concentrated on providing technical advice and operational support for the upcoming cycle of elections in Phase I (2008-2012), in Phase II (2012-2018), ESP is responding to the need for continued capacity building of the Election Commission Nepal in order to build long-term institutional and human-resource capacity to organize credible elections in the context of a diverged political environment and a period of political instability. The project provided technical assistance for the CA election 2013.
Importance of the project towards achieving the SDGs
Focusing on the theme of democratic governance, one of the four key strategic areas of UNDP, ESP is contributing to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of UN,a set of 17 "Global Goals" officially launched as 'Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development' in 2015, through enabling every citizen to take part in the democratic process of election.
The activities of the project targeted towards strengthening capacity of the Election Commission Nepal (ECN) to function as a permanent, independent, credible and professional institution of governance, supporting to conduct of election cycle in an effective, sustainable, and credible manner and increasing democratic participation in the cycle of elections, particularly for under-represented and disadvantaged segments of the Nepali society are tangibly contributing to the SDG 5 (Gender Equality), 10 (Reduced Inequalities) and 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions).
The project, an integral component of the Country Programme Document (CPD) to which UNDP agreed with the Government of Nepal, is making an important contribution particularly in the the context of strengthening democratic governance in Nepal as it is aligned with the Strategic Plan of the ECN (2015-2019).