(GIS) – Heads of Government of the Commonwealth have agreed to the revised guidelines for the conduct of election observation in member countries.
The original Commonwealth Guidelines on election observation were agreed to by Heads at the 1991 Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting. Since then, 137 observation missions have been deployed to 38 of the Commonwealth’s 53 member countries.
Over the past two decades, election observation has become integral to the Secretariat’s work in advancing the Commonwealth’s political values and principles. However, Secretary General of the Commonwealth Secretariat Rt. Hon. Patricia Scotland, during a joint press conference with Prime Minister Hon. Allen Chastanet in Saint Lucia last month, said one of the real developments has been the nature and quality of commonwealth observation missions.
“The Commonwealth Observer Missions are independent. We usually choose a formal leader like a former prime minister or president who really has understood the electoral process. And when these Observation Missions are put together, they go as individuals not on behalf of their countries; and there is opportunity for us to convert observer mission very quickly into the Secretary General’s good offices if it looks as if we need to help more; and what the new guidelines does is to strip down all that good practice and put it in an updated form with the new terms and guidelines, and everyone agreed to those also, and I very much want to thank all the observers from the Caribbean who have participated in Commonwealth Observer Missions in Africa, Pacific , Europe and other Caribbean islands, because that is how we stand together.”
A Commonwealth Observer Group may undertake a post-election return visit after the publication of the final report, to discuss the findings and recommendations with the relevant authorities and to provide the necessary assistance.
“So what will happen is that we will go to one observer mission, the person will come back and we then look to see how that enriches the next observation. So we are always trying to get better and better. We have created toolkits to help our nation states take advantage of our best practices without having to pay huge amounts of money to consultants.”
Commonwealth election observation is only considered with the written invitation or welcome of a government or the election management body.