For the first time, a common set of principles for professional, impartial and effective election observation has been adopted by more than 20 organizations involved in monitoring elections around the world.
The Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation and the Code of Conduct for International Election Observers are aimed at better insuring the integrity of international election observation.
“The presence of international election observers – fielded always at the invitation of sovereign States – can make a big difference in ensuring that elections genuinely move the democratic process forward,” said UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the October 2005 endorsement ceremony. He added, “Until now, however, there has been no set of commonly held principles governing this important work… let us live up to these guidelines.”
“Our hope is that the Declaration will enable consistency among observer groups and ensure the effectiveness and credibility of observation missions worldwide,” said former U.S. President Jimmy Carter at the ceremony at UN Headquarters in New York.
The multi-year process to adopt the common principles was led by NDI, The Carter Center and the United National Electoral Assistance Division.
“This Declaration is a major landmark in developing an international consensus on the principles for election observation,” said NDI Chairman and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. “It brings together an unprecedented group of international organizations in support of the principles of international election observation.”
Endorsing organizations commit themselves, for example, to: act impartially; monitor all stages of the election process; and accept no funding from the host government. The common principles also establish prerequisites for observation such as freedom of movement, freedom to make public statements and free access to information. The Declaration also calls for organizations to ensure that sending monitors not be done in a way that lends undue legitimacy to undemocratic elections.
Published on Mar. 5, 2006