(L-r) Beata Martin-Rozumiłowicz, the Head of ODIHR’s Elections Department and Ambassador Janez Lenarčič, the Director of ODIHR, listen as Radmila Šekerinska, Former Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, delivers the keynote speech at the Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting on Democratic Elections and Election Observation, Vienna, 12 July 2012. (OSCE/Thomas Rymer)
VIENNA, 12 July 2012 – Election observation and the recommendations provided by observation missions of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) are key to promoting democracy and security, participants said today at the opening of a two-day OSCE meeting in Vienna.
The meeting, organized by the Irish OSCE Chairmanship and ODIHR brought together representatives of governments, electoral authorities and civil society organizations focusing on democratic elections from the Organization’s 56 participating States and Partners for Co-operation.
Irish Ambassador Eoin O’Leary, the Chairperson of the OSCE Permanent Council, said that election observation is central to developing and maintaining confidence in democratic systems of government.
“OSCE election observation is conducted both for the benefit of the people of the country holding the elections and for the benefit of the OSCE security community as a whole,” O’Leary said. “The OSCE election observation missions increase the legitimacy and democratic credentials of elections so that the electoral process and outcomes reflect the will of the people and enjoy recognition both inside and outside the country.”
Ambassador Janez Lenarčič, the ODIHR Director, stressed that follow up by participating States on recommendations made in observation reports is equally important.
“The utility of an election observation activity can be maximized if the recommendations it provides are given serious consideration and implemented effectively,” Lenarčič said. “An effective follow-up process builds upon the impact of election observation activities. It is an integral part of an electoral cycle and should ideally start as soon as the final report including recommendations has been published.”
Keynote speaker Radmila Šekerinska, a former Deputy Prime Minister of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, highlighted the importance of election observation by stressing the link between democracy and security.
“The dilemma ‘security or democracy’ is, in my view, a false one,” Šekerinska said. “Bad elections, or ‘turning a blind eye’ from them has always been followed by weakened security and endangered stability.”