Commonwealth Guidelines for the Conduct of Election Observation in Member Countries

Revised Commonwealth Guidelines for the Conduct of Election Observation in Member Countries
1 Introduction
1.1 The Commonwealth Charter recognises “the inalienable right of individuals to participate in democratic processes, in particular through free and fair elections in shaping the society in which they live”. The original Commonwealth Guidelines on election observation were agreed to by Heads at the 1991 CHOGM. Since then, the Commonwealth has deployed 137 observation missions to 38 of the
organisation’s 53 member countries. During this period, election observation has become integral to the Secretariat’s work in advancing the Commonwealth’s
political values and principles. However, since 1991 there have been many developments in the approach to election observation and in the conduct of elections. 1.2 These revised Commonwealth Guidelines for the Conduct of Election Observation
adopt best practice, as also reflected in the Declaration of Principles on International Election Observation, and will ensure the on-going integrity, value and impact of Commonwealth observer missions as they continue to support the strengthening of electoral democracy and the political rights of Commonwealth citizens.
2 Establishing Commonwealth Observer Groups
2.1 Commonwealth election observation is only considered with the written invitation or welcome of a Government or the election management body. Such an invitation needs to be timely. The decision to deploy a Commonwealth Observer Group (COG) rests with the Secretary-General who will respond in writing.
2.2 In determining whether to deploy a COG the Secretary-General needs to be
assured that the conditions for fair, credible and inclusive elections exist, cognisant of the terms of reference for a Commonwealth Observer Group, and there is a broad welcome for the presence of a Commonwealth team. COGs must also be assured of free access to relevant electoral processes and material, electoral actors and freedom of movement around a member country. Adverse security factors which may impact on observers may also be taken into account. A Secretariat pre-election assessment team is usually deployed some two to three months in advance of a prospective COG in order to verify these criteria.

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