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Principles for international electoral assistance

These principles were prepared by Thomas Carothers, Vice President for Studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace for discussion at the first GOVNET Roundtable on International Support for Elections: Effective Strategies and Accountability Systems on 1st March 2010. They were revised based on the discussions and subsequent comments from the roundtable participants.

Preamble

Supporting democracy is crucial for the international donor community, both because of the intrinsic value of democracy as a political system that helps foster human dignity, and because of the contributions that democratic governance make towards development for individual citizens.

Elections are only one element of democracy, yet they are an indispensable one - without genuine and credible elections democracy does not function. Elections give form to citizens’ political voice, constituting both a fundamental root of political accountability and an orderly process for successions and alternations of power.

Through substantial support in many countries making democratic transitions over the past several decades, the international community has helped improve numerous electoral processes. By identifying lessons from these experiences and incorporating them into improved methods and practices, international elections assistance is evolving well.

Nevertheless, given the complexities, difficulties, and risks of electoral processes in many developing countries, electoral assistance continues to face numerous challenges. This is especially true in post-conflict contexts and in fragile states characterised by socio-political divisions, ineffective governance structures and the disenfranchisement of citizens, most often women, from electoral and broader political decision-making processes.

 
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