Practical insights: handbooks and toolkits

The Longer-Term Impact of UNDP Electoral Assistance: Lessons Learned. UNDP, 2014.

The study consolidates in a systematic manner the lessons learned on UNDP’s electoral projects, an area where the organisation has been active for over a decade. The study identifies best practices that can be shared to inform future programming and policy formation and focuses on the principles of sustainability, cost-effectiveness, national ownership and human rights. The scope of the study is global, but it also focuses on eight country case studies: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Georgia, Indonesia, Liberia, Mexico, Mozambique and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The study is particularly interesting considering that, as mentioned in the text, the recommendations and good practices are based on the UN’s emphasis on sovereignty and non-interference. For this reason, this may be a useful resource for organisations or civil society groups that seek to address electoral malpractice with a cooperative and slightly less confrontational approach.  

Deepening Democracy: a Strategy for Improving the Integrity of Elections Worldwide. Global Commission on Elections, Democracy and Security, 2012.  

This report by the Global Commission on Elections, Democracy and Security highlights global threats to democratic progress and identifies major challenges to delivering elections with integrity. The commission emphasises that elections conducted with integrity not only promote democratic values and human rights, but also help to improve governance, fight corruption, empower minority groups and deliver services to the poor. Against this background, the report puts forward 13 recommendations to strengthen electoral processes and norms worldwide. These recommendations are aimed at international donors and national governments and have the objective of not only improving electoral system integrity, but also address the empowerment of other national actors to monitor elections and electoral practices.  

Elections Observation Handbook. OSCE/ODIHIR, 2010. 6th Edition.  

This handbook is intended to act as a guideline for electoral observers worldwide and offers a detailed exhibition of the ODIHR’s observation methodology. This is the 6th edition of the handbook, first published in 1996. The handbook clearly outlines minimum conditions for effective, credible and professional observation of elections. It informs governments of participating states, political parties, candidates, voters, media and civil society about the basis for the planning, deployment and implementation of and follow-up to an election observation mission. Furthermore, the handbook elaborates how OSCE member states are assessed for their compliance with the organisations election integrity commitments as well as other international standards for democratic elections and national legislation.  

Milking the System: Fighting the Abuse of Public Resources for Re-election. Speck, B., and Fontana, A., 2007. U4 Issue Brief 2011:7 U4 Anti-corruption Resource Centre.  

Abuse of state resources for re-election damages democracy, creating an uneven playing field that improves re-election chances of incumbents and negatively influencing the quality of government, since diversion of resources for financing campaigns incurs costs for the institutions involved and may reduce services provided to the public. This paper explains the need for an integrated reform strategy, including reforming the electoral system, strengthening political parties, and regulating the financing of parties and elections. At the same time, the need to curb the supply of resources through strengthening the civil service, building state monitoring mechanisms and enhancing transparency to allow for media and civil society oversight is also highlighted.

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