The organisations that observe elections around the world gathered at the Commonwealth’s headquarters in London for a two-day meeting to discuss best practice for observer missions.
Two former heads of government and representatives from inter-governmental organisations and international NGOs reflected on the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation, which was adopted in 2005 to ensure the professionalism and credibility of the field.
Welcoming delegates, Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said, “We are greatly encouraged by the collaboration and mutual support which we share while conducting international election observation. We really welcome such partnership and hope that it will continue, including through meetings such as this.”
The Commonwealth was one of the 22 original signatories of the Declaration. There are now more than 50 endorsing organisations. They meet every year to ensure that the Principles remain relevant and are implemented.
Lawrence Gonzi, former Prime Minister of Malta and Chair of the Commonwealth Observation Group to the Maldives in 2013, said, “The point that has been made at this year’s event is that there are no fixed rules, every single election is unique. Therefore, the ability to come together and to share experiences, to benefit from each other’s solutions or methods, provides enormous help.”
Festus Mogae, former President of Botswana and Chair of three Commonwealth Observer Groups, noted “Although we as a Commonwealth have our own traditions and practises, we are aware that we are part of the international community, and international practices matter to everybody.”
Since 1991, the Commonwealth has deployed 139 observation missions to 38 member countries. New observation guidelines for the Commonwealth, which reflect the Declaration of Principles and the latest best practice, were adopted earlier this year at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London.