FAFEN Hosts Regional Conference to raise Election Monitoring Standards

ISLAMABAD January 28, 2009: Representatives of domestic election observation groups from South and South East Asian countries gathered in Islamabad on January 28, 2009 to attend the two-day Regional Conference on Best Practices for Domestic Election Observation”, being hosted by the Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) in collaboration with The Asia Foundation.

Delegates from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Pakistan spoke on the first day of the conference on the important role civil society organizations have been playing the democratic and electoral development in their countries.

The goal of the 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 monitors around the world. Conference participants are discussing the value of along-term election monitoring (Starting long before elections), based on objective criteria, statistical methodologies, and international human rights principles.

Election Commission Secretary Kanwar Dilshad, addressing the inaugural ceremony of the conference, congratulated FAFEN and recognized the group’s important contributions to the 2008 Pakistan General Elections. The ceremony was also addressed by Chairperson of FAFEN Mosarrat Qadeem and Country Representative of Asia Foundation Dr. Jon Summers.

Conference delegates are presenting case studies describing the methodologies that various organization use to observe election processes in Pakistan and around the region, such as FAFEN voters’ list audit and 2008 Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT). The conference is evaluating the impact of these approaches on electoral reform efforts as well as the lessons learned for improvement in the future.

Conference deliberation are contributing to a “Best Practice Manual on Domestic Election Observation” drafted by FAFEN , providing methodological option and practical guidance for all aspects of domestic election observers’ work. A “Declaration of Principles for Domestic Election Observation” will provide standards, based on international law and best practices, to be adopted by election monitoring groups in the region.

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.