Many countries continue to face challenges of consolidating democratic practices and institutions. The result is that in some cases, conflict can emerge from flawed elections.
The Commonwealth has undertaken many Commonwealth Observer Groups (COGs) and Commonwealth Expert Teams (CETs) since the beginning of 2006. In addition, during this period we have also conducted assessments of elections or referenda in Cameroon, Maldives, Rwanda and Zambia.
We ensure that the reputation and physical profile of our observer teams allows us to have significant access. All teams are broadly representative of the Commonwealth and many have a former head of state as leader.
Between 2006 and 2008 we sent eight advisers to five Commonwealth countries to help strengthen democratic processes and institutions. For example, we have sent an Election Expert who is providing technical assistance to the Election and Boundaries Commission in Swaziland.
The Expert provides advice to the Commission on policy, strategy and technical arrangements and based all advice on international standards for credible elections and best practices to ensure an apparent and accountable process.
We provide training to individuals and institutions in member countries in a number of ways. We regularly conduct workshops to increase awareness of key practices and issues, such as our series of Government and Opposition Workshops.
We also provided experts to conduct training for the Human Rights Commission of Maldives on election observation. We helped Seirra Leone's Election Commission mainstream gender into its activities and help facilitate participation of marginalised groups in the electoral process.