Promoting Understanding and Engagement in Security Policy
With rising levels of criminal violence, lingering political divisions from the 2009 coup, and a continuing erosion of trust in government, Honduras faces growing challenges in its ability to meet security challenges and to do so in a transparent manner that engages citizens. In 2012, a broad group of civil society organizations joined to form the Alliance for Peace and Justice (Alianza por la Paz y la Justicia, APJ) in an effort to promote more concerted advocacy and monitoring efforts on security policy and reform. NDI has supported APJ since 2013 to expand its regional presence; more effectively coordinate advocacy activities based on local-level research; and engage citizens and the government at both the national and local levels.
In a complementary effort to expand citizen knowledge of security policies, reforms and procedures, NDI collaborated with IUDPAS to conduct a national study on victimization and citizen perceptions of violence and to create and maintain a virtual library for citizens to easily access public information on democracy, security, and human rights topics. NDI also is supporting the Civil Society Group (Grupo Soiedad Civil, GSC) to monitor security-related national policies and develop reform proposals to existing citizen security initiatives. In addition, NDI is assisting the Network of Institutions for the Rights of Children (Coordinadora de Instituciones Privadas pro las Niñas, Niños, Adolescentes, Jóvenes y sus Derechos, COIPRODEN) to conduct awareness activities to increase youth participation in peace initiatives.
Election Monitoring and Reform
Previous presidential elections have highlighted shortcomings in the Honduran electoral system, particularly in the transmission of election results. In response, NDI began working in Honduras to increase the transparency and help safeguard the integrity of the election processes.
NDI supported Let’s Do Democracy (Hagamos Democracia, HD) to observe the 2008 primary and 2009 general election. With NDI assistance, HD deployed volunteer election monitors to a random sample of over 1,000 polling stations in 95 percent of the country’s municipalities to conduct a parallel vote tabulation (PVT or “quick count”). The observation provided statistically valid and reliable on the results of the presidential election and on the quality of the election-day process. NDI also deployed an international assessment mission for the 2009 general elections consisting of 21 experts from the United States, Latin America and Europe. The delegation’s reports noted that further reforms were needed to update the voter registry and to overcome the country’s divisions. The full report is available on NDI’s website.
NDI supported HD to conduct quick counts of the presidential races in the 2012 primary and 2013 general elections, as well as systematic observations of the quality of each process. The Institute also supported Honduran civic organizations IUDPAS and the Honduran Documentation Center (Centro de Documentación de Honduras, CEDOH) to monitor key aspects of the electoral process, including incidents of electoral violence, vote buying and voter intimidation, compliance by parties with new gender quotas, and spending by major campaigns. Prior to the 2012 primary elections, NDI and HD also completed a systematic study of the voter registry to identify and promote recommendations for the 2013 elections. The full study is available on NDI’s website.
In the lead up to and following the 2013 elections, NDI joined with other international organizations to co-sponsor four seminars on campaign finance, electoral justice, transparency, the role of electoral bodies and other reform topics. NDI produced a book that compiled seven key issues presented on and discussed at the forums. The full book is available on NDI’s website.
Promoting Leadership and Inclusive Political Institutions
In 2011, NDI released a study on barriers to political participation in Honduras based on a public opinion survey conducted with HD. The study found very low levels of citizen confidence in most Honduran institutions—as well as a persistent deficit in women’s political knowledge and participation—and attributed citizen distrust to the political crisis and the coup as well as the demoralizing effects of pervasive corruption.
The full study, which includes comparative analysis with other countries in Central America, is available here.
To improve citizen’s confidence in democratic institutions, NDI has been working since 2011 with political parties to analyze their organizational structures and policy platforms and identify priority reforms; promote leadership roles and participation of young people, women and minorities; and encourage meaningful political dialogue on electoral and security reform. Since 2011, NDI has facilitated 50 “democracy dialogues” in La Ceiba, San Pedro Sula, Tela and Tegucigalpa to promote respectful discourse on public policy reforms among civil society, government and political party representatives. The Institute also supports an annual leadership academy for emerging leaders from new and established political parties and civil society groups.
During the 2012/2013 electoral process, NDI supported a leadership academy for women candidates. One-third of the 33 female deputies elected in 2013 participated in this academy. The Institute continues supporting women legislators as they develop a multi-partisan legislative agenda to promote women´s political participation and respond to violence against women more effectively.
For further information, please contact:
Washington, D.C.: Kira Ribar, Program Manager ([email protected])
Tegucigalpa: Deborah Ullmer, Resident Director ([email protected])