Towards an integrated approach to election observation? Professionalising European long-term election observation missions


% Complete
    The trend towards holding democratic multi-party elections has been on the upsurge during the past decade. International organisations including the United Nations (UN), Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR), Organisation of African Unity (OAU), Organisation of American States (OAS) and the Council of Europe, are confronted with an unmet need to assist in the implementation of electoral processes. These requests for election assistance have mainly come from countries in democratic transition, from countries that hold elections following a declaration of independence, or from countries that have been involved in protracted civil wars or internal strife. Two main factors explain the increase in international election observation missions. First, the transformation in the philosophy of intervention: election monitoring or technical assistance for the management of electoral processes is no longer considered to be a breach of sovereignty or an intervention in a country's internal affairs and, in particular, in its political reform process. Second, the changing geo-political situation allows the international donor community to include more political oriented aspects in its foreign assistance policies.   The reason for developing a project on election observation must be seen in light of the growing importance of election observation missions, and concomitantly, with the increasing need to professionalise these missions. The increase in missions has also drawn negative criticism on their organisation and on the conduct of election observation mission personnel. Taking into account the shortcomings and bottlenecks of election observation missions, it appears that improvement of the organisation of the mission, the quality of mission personnel, and indeed the overall preparation of the mission must be considered prerequisites for successful completion. Resulting from a close collaboration between the Austrian Study Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution (ASPR) and the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM), two pilot training projects were developed with the objective to enhance the quality of election observation missions. One course was designed for election observation managers, and the other for long-term election observers (LTOs). The two proposals were submitted to and approved by the European Commission in October 1996. In the process of developing the course, and in order to ensure "state-of-the-art" thinking in election observation, ECDPM consulted with experts in various fields such as democratisation, human rights, election laws, electoral processes and election observation. Upon completing a draft proposal and curriculum for the courses, a meeting of experts was organised in Maastricht on 10 December 1996. The aim of the meeting was to brainstorm on the design of the training courses for election observation personnel, as well as to reflect on related general policy issues. Read Policy Management Report 7:  
    Loading Conversation