Global Commission on Elections, Democracy & Security
“Building democracy is a complex process. Elections are only a starting point but if their integrity is compromised, so is the legitimacy of democracy.” - Kofi A. Annan
Credible elections are essential for democracy and security. When elections are poorly run or manipulated to ensure political gain, voters lose faith in the integrity of the electoral process, the legitimacy of the elected government is degraded, the promise of democracy is deferred, and human rights and security are put at risk. When the international community accepts flawedelections, the credibility of international democracy assistance suffers.
The last 20 years have been an era of unprecedented democratisation. National presidential and legislative elections have become a nearly universal political institution, conducted by democratic and non-democratic regimes alike. There have also been unprecedented levels of international electoral assistance, observation and monitoring but despite this progress, recent trends and events raise doubts about the continued spread of electoral democracy.
Several electoral democracies have reverted to authoritarianism, the efficacy of international donors in preventing democratic breakdown has been questioned and the ability of electoral democracies to sustain themselves as self-enforcing, liberal democracies is of concern. There are many challenges to electoral integrity depending on the context in which elections take place, whether in poor countries; ethnically divided countries; countries in or emerging from civil war; authoritarian countries; consolidating democracies or mature democracies. Electoral-related violence and questions about quality of representation, especially for women, also pose particular challenges.
While the primary responsibility for upholding the integrity of elections rests with national leaders, international actors can assist local stakeholders to make leaders accountable, raise the costs of electoral abuse, and reward those leaders who ensure the credibility of the electoral process.
To further understanding of the importance of electoral integrity, the Kofi Annan Foundation and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) jointly launched the Global Commission on Elections, Democracy and Security.
Objectives of the Commission
The primary purpose of the Global Commission on Elections, Democracy and Security is to promote and protect the integrity of the electoral process, which is fundamental for sustainable democracy.
The Commission will aim to:
• Provide a compelling and comprehensive approach within which national and international efforts can successfully safeguard the integrity of the electoral process for the sustainability of democracy;
• Provide recommendations to national governments, institutions and civil society as well as international and regional organisations on how to collaborate effectively to translate the new approach into practice; and
• Promote, including at high political level, renewed national and international commitment in support of the integrity of electoral processes.
The Work of the Commission
The Commission will share recommendations with governments, regional and international organisations on how to prioritise and implement principles and practices to enhance the integrity of electoral processes.
The Commission expects to conclude its work and present its final report by September 2012. An Advisory Group comprised of representatives of global, regional and national bodies, as well as academics, practitioners and electoral experts has been established to offer the Commission strategic advice and analysis.
Chair: Kofi A. Annan, Vice Chair: Ernesto Zedillo, Martti Ahtisaari,
Madeleine K. Albright, Louise Arbour, Vidar Helgesen, Rima Khalaf Hunaidi, Festus Mogae,
Amartya Sen, Javier Solana, Vaira Vike-Freiberga and Hassan Wirajuda.
Friends of the Commission: Helen Clark, Lynn Pascoe
Director of the Commission: Stephen Stedman