Media Center



  June 2, 2007

PANAMA CITY, Panama— Accentuating the value of electoral observation missions conducted by the Organization of American Status (OAS), Assistant Secretary General Albert R. Ramdin today stressed the need for continued proactive and ongoing engagement with the particular member states once their elections have been monitored. He also called for a permanent mechanism to finance such OAS observation missions.

Speaking as part of a panel during an international forum on “The 2005-2006 Electoral Cycle in the Americas: An Evaluation by the OAS General Secretariat,” Ambassador Ramdin suggested that observation missions could benefit from being more long-term so as to “allow for more comprehensive missions that focus on the observation of the overall quality of an electoral process from a broader perspective.”

He noted that, for OAS Electoral Observation Missions, donors and development partners “need to look beyond Election Day and instead look at the overall electoral cycle, linking electoral assistance to development and democratization. It is important to have long-term observations missions that can facilitate the observation of pre-election, Election Day and post-election developments.”

Ramdin, who has led three OAS observation missions—in Guyana, Panama and St. Vincent and the Grenadines—underscored the need to “contextualize” electoral observation in terms of the reality on the ground. “The impact of the social, political and local dynamics as well as elections on a country must be understood,” he remarked, explaining that another way to enhance the work of observation missions is to make them more proactive in providing assistance where necessary.

The forum was part of a series of meetings held ahead of the 37th OAS General Assemblywhich opens in the Panamanian capital on Sunday, when the foreign ministers of the 34 member states meet for three days to discuss and take decisions on a range of priority issues on the inter-American agenda.

Other participants on the panel included U.S. Congressman Gregory Meeks; former Registrar of Colombia Alma Beatriz Rengifo; and the Director of the OAS Department for Electoral Cooperation and Observation, Elizabeth Spehar. University of Southern California professor and OAS consultant Gerardo Munck moderated the panel discussion.

Reference: GA-10-07