Islamabad January 29, 2009: Civil society groups from the Asia region agreed today to hold wider consultations on a draft “Declaration of Principles for Domestic Election Observation” at a conference hosted by the Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) to seek input and comments from similar organizations throughout Asia.
Election observation groups from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka have formed a regional working committee to finalize the draft Declaration, which seeks to raise the standards of domestic election observation in the region.
The Declaration of Principles for Domestic Observation articulates high standards, based on international law and best practices, for all domestic groups observing election processes in their respective countries. The Declaration is modeled on a similar document for International Observers that has 32 signatory organizations, including the United Nations and the European Union.
The principles in the Declaration include the need for rigorous and transparent methodologies to ensure objectivity, accuracy, and timely reporting of election observation findings. Domestic observer groups at the FAFEN conference agreed on the importance of long-term election observation that begins with voter registration and voters’ lists; statistically-based approaches such as FAFEN’s 2008 Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT); and consistent interaction with the election commission, media professionals, and all political parties equally during elections.
Conference delegates discussed how these “best practices” enable domestic election observation groups to have the greatest impact on preparations for an election, deterring misconduct on Election Day, and long-term electoral reform. Deliberations at the conference are contributing to a “Best Practices Manual on Domestic Election Observation,” drafted by FAFEN, providing methodological options and practical guidance for all aspects of domestic election observers’ work. FAFEN will serve as the Secretariat for the regional working committee on the Declaration and the Manual.
The goal of the FAFEN regional conference is to raise the technical and professional standards for domestic election observation by civil society organizations in the Asia region, potentially as a model for election observers around the world. Election Commission of Pakistan Secretary Kanwar Dilshad addressed the inaugural session of the conference, praising FAFEN’s efforts.
Organizations participating in the conference include Election Working Group (EWG) of Bangladesh, People’s Voter Education Network (JPPR) of Indonesia; Democracy and Elections Alliance of Nepal (DEAN); Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) of the Philippines, and Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) of Sri Lanka; and Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN), Pakistan Coalition for Free and Fair Elections (PACFREL), and The Researchers, all from Pakistan. The conference was hosted in collaboration with The Asia Foundation/Pakistan.
About FAFEN:FAFEN is a coalition of 30 leading Pakistani civil society organizations. It was established in 2006 to observe electoral and democratic processes, educate citizens and voters, and advocate for electoral and democratic reform. All FAFEN polling station data, election analysis, and electoral reform recommendations are posted at www.fafen.org.
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