Aurat Publication & Information Service Foundation
Conference on Election Observation to Promote International Standards in Election Observation, Islamabad


Conference on Election Observation to Promote International Standards in Election Observation

Aurat Foundation, in collaboration with Free and Fair Elections Network (FAFEN),Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and Special Talent Exchange Program (STEP) organized a conference titled ‘Conference on Election Observation to  Promote International Standards in Election Observation’,  on April 4, 2013, at Marriot, Islamabad.  The  organizations, which going to observe General Elections 2013, have pledged to observe elections according to the recognized methodology defined in Declaration of Global Principles for Non-Partisan Election Observation and Monitoring by Citizen Organizations.

In a conference held in Islamabad on Thursday, the Pakistani organizations were joined by international associations of citizen observation groups from Asia, Middle East and Southern Africa and by Democracy Reporting International (DRI), National Democratic Institute (NDI) and United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

Khawar Mumtaz, Chairperson of the National Commission on the Status of Women, opened the conference and commended Pakistani organizations for taking the step towards ensuring credible election observation: “Accountability and transparency in elections is a two-way street – we ask for it from the election commission and seek equally from the observers to be transparent and share the standards being used”.

Vladimir Pran from DRI said:“The standards used by international and domestic observer groups to assess elections are an extension of the obligations and commitments Pakistan made under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). These treaties include the obligation to facilitate election observation.”

National Coordinator for HRCP Core Groups Hussain Naqi said that HRCP is planning to monitor the elections in those 56 constituencies which are sensitive in the context of human rights violations. Calling upon the voters to exercise their right to franchise on election day, he said, “Your destiny is in your hands! Prove it".

Sharing observation plans for the upcoming elections, Naeem Mirza from Aurat Foundation explained that the focus of AF will be on participation of women “We will be reporting on how the authorities are guaranteeing women’s rights. Our special focus will be arrangements made by the ECP.” Mirza commended the ECP for planning to provide data on women’s turnout on polling day for the first time in Pakistan.  He also said that while the national and international organizations and networks would be observing and monitoring general elections, Aurat Foundation would also be observing and monitoring the Election Commission of Pakistan to see whether it has made necessary  arrangements for maximizing women's participation in the elections and if see there were no violation of women's right to vote and representation.

The preamble of the ‘Declaration of Global Principles for Non-Partisan Election Observation and Monitoring by Citizen Organizations’ says:


“ Non-partisan election observation and monitoring by citizens organizations has emerged as one of the most tangible and significant dimensions of democratic development around the glob  ……………  Non-partisan election observation and monitoring by citizens organizations is part of participating in public affairs, which ‘relates to legislative, executive and administrative powers’ and ‘covers all aspects of public administration, and formulation of implementation of policy ………….  Non-partisan election observers and monitors can  be considered as specialized human rights defenders focused on civil and political rights, which are central to achieving genuine elections.  Genuine elections require respect for the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including association, peaceful assembly, expression, media freedom, movement, security of person, equal protection of the law prospective voters and those seeking to be elected……..”

Hannah Roberts, Deputy Chief Observer, European Union Observation Mission, gave a presentation on the International Standards in Observation of the 2013 Elections Access of voters with disabilities will be under scrutiny of STEP, said Ms Abia akram, Director Programme, STEP (an organization promoting rights of persons with disabilities). Sarwar Bari from FAFEN called for formalization of these rights, “The ECP should give accreditation to local observation networks as organisations instead of giving it to individual observers,” he said. Telibert Laoc, from National Democratic Institute, introduced the Declaration of Global Principles for Non-Partisan Election Observation and Monitoring by Citizen Organizations which has been endorsed by180 independent election monitoring organizations in over 75 countries around the globe. The Declaration incorporates global standards into citizen observation in order to strengthen the role of domestic observers in the electoral process.

National civil society organizations planning election observation present at the conference acknowledged the importance of adhering to internationally recognized standards for the responsible conduct of their duties as observers. Discussing the importance of the relationship between elections commissions and observers, Zurab Tchiaberashvili, former Chairman of Georgian elections commission, said: “Elections can never be credible and in line with international standards without proper and long-term observation. Simple fact is that election authorities need election observers to support the electoral process.