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OAS Assistant Secretary General Highlights Contribution of Electoral Observation Missions to Strengthening Democracy in the Region

  March 11, 2015

The Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Albert Ramdin, highlighted the contribution of the Electoral Observation Missions (EOMs) of the hemispheric institution to the consolidation of democracy in the region, at the opening the First Meeting of Chiefs of EOMs of the Organization, held today at the headquarters of the multilateral Organization in Washington, DC.

Ambassador Ramdin recalled that the OAS has deployed more than 224 missions over more than half a century, which makes the it the regional organization with the most experience in electoral observation. "We have learned that while it is possible to have elections without democracy, a country cannot have democracy without legitimate, periodic, transparent and regular elections," he said, noting that "elections are the cornerstone of representative democracy, and constitute the only legitimate form of transfer and exercise of power in democratic states."

Ambassador Ramdin said the EOMs have improved their methodology through experience, and have helped to improve the democratic systems and institutions of OAS member countries through the recommendations made in the reports produced at the conclusion of each mission. This has taken place at all levels, he recalled, because "the OAS has observed many types of elections: presidential and parliamentary elections, legislative, municipal, referendums and even the election of authorities of the judiciary," he said.

The senior OAS official reviewed in his address the different observation teams that the OAS has deployed throughout its history, of varied sizes and tasks. "These missions have varied in their size and scope, from missions of two members to accompany electoral processes, to missions that deployed 400 observers, as in Nicaragua in 1990," he said. In terms of their duration, he said, there have been both short and long-term missions. "While short-term missions are limited in their scope, only allowing for the deploying of observers a few days before the elections, long-term missions provide an opportunity for broader and deeper engagement with all phases of the electoral process," he added.

In addition, Ambassador Ramdin also mentioned two program initiatives recently published by the OAS in order to improve its assistance to electoral processes. The first is a Manual for Incorporating a Gender Perspective into OAS EOMs, with the aim of developing "a methodology standardization that incorporates gender perspective into its election observation efforts" he said, to bring issues of "gender equality and women´s political rights to the fore and help place these concerns on the political agenda." The other initiative mentioned by the OAS Assistant Secretary General is the Quality Management Systems in Electoral Authorities in Latin America which resulted in the certification process of electoral processes or structures under the ISO 9001 standard.

In his conclusion, the Assistant Secretary General said that for EOMs to succeed they must have four key factors: leadership, reflected in the Chief of Mission; the collaboration of the electoral authorities of the country visited; availability and appropriate use of technology; and adequate funding and support. Regarding this last factor, he noted the need for donors to extend their support to electoral missions long term, so that they can successfully accomplish their work.

The First Meeting of Heads of MOEs of the Organization, coordinated by the OAS Department of Electoral Cooperation and Observation (DECO), will conclude in the afternoon with an address by the OAS Secretary General, José Miguel Insulza. The live broadcast of the event can be followed by the OAS Website and the full agenda is available here.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

The video news of the event wiil be available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-077/15