Adoption of the New Delhi Declaration 2015



Adoption of the New Delhi Declaration 2015 
The two day Regional Conference on ‘The Use of Money in Politics and Its Effects on People’s Representation’ culminated in the New Delhi Declaration 2015 on Political Finance Regulation in South Asia unveiled on Wednesday, 16th December 2015, in New Delhi by the Hon’ble Chief Election Commissioner of India Dr. Nasim Zaidi along with Ms. Leena RikkilaTamang, Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, International IDEA. 


The Conference was jointly organized by the Election Commission of India, International IDEA (an intergovernmental body wherein India is one of the founding members)& India International Institute of Democracy and Election Management (IIIDEM). A first time for stakeholders to discuss issues and solutions on political finance regulation at a regional level, the Conference was attended by nearly 100 participants, across the region, that included Mr. Ahmad Sulaiman Chairman, Maldives Election Commission, Dr. Ayodhi Prasad Yadav, Chief Election Commissioner of Nepal, DashoKunzangWangdi former Chief Election Commissioner of Bhutan, Mr. Ahmad Bilal Mehboob President Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT), Mr. Ibrahim Ghafoori Director, Democracy & Human Rights, SAARC Secretariat, Nepal, and Dr. Samuel Ratnajeevan Herbert Hoole, Sri Lanka Election Commission. Other participants included various stakeholders chief among them representatives of recognized National Political Parties of India namely Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), and Indian National Congress (INC), civil society organisations, academicians, journalists (from the rest of Asia, in particular from Bangladesh, Malaysia, Maldives, as well as from Europe) representatives of election management bodies of South Asia, former Chief Election Commissioners of India Mr. Navin Chawla, Dr. S.Y. Quraishi, Mr. V.S Sampath, Mr. H.S. Brahma.

The New Delhi Declaration on Political Finance Regulation in South Asia, 2015, unanimously adopted by the house, is in response to the needs for strengthening the regulation of political finance (uneven access or use of money) across the South Asian region and elsewhere in the world which adequately ensures level playing among all political parties and ultimately serves the welfare of public rather than special interests.

It contains nine overarching principles including adoption of a holistic approach to regulation, comprehensive coverage, closing of monitoring gaps, coordinates efforts with stakeholders and agencies along with facilitating participation of women in electoral democracy. The overarching principles look at a holistic and integrated approach to regulation of political finance by closing gaps and loopholes in the implementation of the existing procedures and regulations. It also underscores the need to create uniformity for all political parties and candidates by creating an improved architecture for monitoring of expenditures and contributions.

The declaration also has nine regulations and implementing guidelines on maintaining reasonable levels of spending, regulation of private contributions, and provision of public funding for political parties, prevention of abuse of state resources public disclosure of political finance, the regulatory authority, compliance, and enforcement among others.

The regulation and implementation guidelines looked at limiting campaign spending of candidates, political parties and third parties. It also looked at regulating contributions including public and private along with corporate funding and anonymous donations. Curbing the abuse of state resources and encouragement of public disclosure of political finance with incentives also forms a part of the guidelines. An organized and system readable format of reporting of financial statements along with stress on compliance via enforcement of laws for enhanced transparency is also contained in the guidelines.

These overarching principles and guidelines which are recommendation of the Declarations will be disseminated to Election Management Bodies (EMBs) in South Asian region and elsewhere for appropriate use as per local contexts in their jurisdictions. 
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Regional Conference on the use of Money in Politics and its effects on People’s Representation

Approves New Delhi Declaration on Political Finance 2015
               The two day regional conference on “The use of money in politics and its effects on people’s representation” jointly held with the Election Commission of India, International IDEA & India International Institute of Democracy and Election Management (IIIDEM) on 15th and 16th December 2015 in New Delhi concluded today. The conference had been jointly inaugurated yesterday byDr. Nasim Zaidi, Chief Election Commissioner of India and Mr. Yves Leterme, Secretary General of International IDEA, who is also the former Prime Minister of Belgium. The Conference was also attended by Mr. A.K. Joti and Mr. O.P. Rawat, Election Commissoners of India.

The Secretary General of International IDEA Mr. Yves Leterme, former Prime Minister of Belgium, opened the doors for discussion in his welcome speech by laying serious concerns; he quoted “The question of money’s negative influence over politics is as pressing as ever. Why? Because it threatens the very foundations of democracies. Money seeps into the political process on many levels, tainting everything from party financing to campaign donations and candidate expenses. Problems include, amongst others, incumbents abusing state funds; criminal money influencing decision-makers; and small groups of oligarchs, wealthy individuals or large corporations “hijacking” politics via donations. This dialogue and the draft declaration will help to create a concrete framework for all the participating nations to consider”
The Regional Conference on the Use of Money in Politics and Its Effects on People’s Representation, organized jointly by International IDEA and the Elections Commission of India (ECI) was the first time for stakeholders to discuss issues and solutions on a regional level. The International participnts included Mr. Ahmad Sulaiman Chairman, Maldives Election Commission, Dr. Ayodhi Prasad Yadav, Chief Election Commissioner of Nepal, Dasho Kunzang Wangdi former Chief Election Commissioner of Bhutan, Mr. Ahmad Bilal Mehboob President Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT), Mr. Ibrahim Ghafoori Director, Democracy & Human Rights, SAARC Secratariat and Dr. Samuel Ratnajeevan Herbert Hoole, Sri Lanka Election Commission. Other participants included various stakeholders like representatives of National political parties of India, Civil Society Organisations, representatives of election management bodies of South Asia, former Chief Election Commissioners of India Mr. Navin Chawla, Dr. S.Y. Quraishi, Mr. V.S Sampath, Mr. H.S.Brahma.
The conference participants came forward together and laid out a draft declaration towards the end of the session. The draft included recommendations on political finance regulations, how to close loopholes in the regulatory framework and coordinating efforts with all stakeholders. The declaration also provides guidance on how to ensure equal participation and recognizes that women face particular obstacles created by money and access to funds.
               Dr. Nasim Zaidi, Chief Election Commissioner of India chaired the plenary session of the conference and presented the final conclusion drawn in the two day conference. The presentations made by experts and active deliberations by the participants resulted in finalisation of a declaration for Political Finance regulation in South Asia.

               The declaration, New Delhi Declaration on Political Finance, 2015, identifies over-arching principles which are to be followed while making political finance regulations and major guidelines for implementation.

“[Money] limit their participation as candidates and active party members. Regulations should facilitate the participation of women in political life” quoted Ms. Leena Rikkila Tamang, Regional Director of International IDEA while she was addressing issues on gender biasness in Democracy.
               While presenting the draft declaration, in his concluding speech Dr. Nasim Zaidi, expressed that “New Delhi Declaration 2015” is a historical document and will go a long way in further evolving the political finance practices by the EMBs in South Asian region.

               The declaration covers overarching principles such as holistic regulations, reasonableness of regulations, facilitation of participation of women and coordination of efforts with other stakeholders.

               The regulatory guidelines formulated in the declaration cover subjects such as reasonable levels of spending, regulation of private contributions, abuse of state resources, enforcement, compliance and reporting requirements.



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