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        General Assembly
15 October 2005

Original: English

Sixtieth session
Agenda item 71 (b)
Human rights questions: human rights questions, including
alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment
of human rights and fundamental freedoms

Strengthening the role of the United Nations in enhancing the effectiveness of the principle of periodic and genuine elections and the promotion of democratization

Report of the Secretary-General

The present report describes the activities of the United Nations system in providing electoral support to Member States over the past two years. The report begins by establishing an international context in which both the benefits of democracy and the credibility of the United Nations in providing electoral assistance are increasingly recognized by Member States.

The report follows up on the warnings contained in previous reports that electoral assistance risks becoming a victim of its own success. As demands on the assistance infrastructure have increased, resources have remained the same. However, despite increasing demands and limited resources, much has been achieved.

During the past two years, the role of the United Nations in technical assistance and in post-conflict elections has increased in quantitative terms and in complexity. The report underlines that both technical assistance and support of post-conflict elections illustrate the importance of forging a better link between electoral events and parallel processes in areas such as human rights, the rule of law, and institution-building.

The report presents a number of recommendations, especially targeting the administrative impediments to unlocking the full capacity of the United Nations.

I. Introduction

1. The present report has been prepared in conformity with General Assembly resolution 58/180 of 22 December 2003 and covers electoral activities undertaken by the United Nations in the period since the previous report on this subject (A/58/212), issued on 4 August 2003.


III. Experience of the United Nations

22. Since the creation in 1992 of the Electoral Assistance Division, 326 requests for assistance have been received from 101 Member States (as well as from Kosovo, Palestine and Western Sahara), of which 223 led to electoral assistance projects. During the review period, 40 requests were received and 32 either were accepted or are currently under consideration. During the same period, 46 States (and Palestine) received electoral assistance. While the number of requests made was similar to that of the past several years, it must be kept in mind that new requests that are accepted add to projects that are still under way, meaning that the total number of projects has increased over the biennium. More importantly, the complexity and visibility of these projects have increased as have, in many cases, the stakes of their outcome.

23. Requests for observation or observation-type assistance (expert monitoring, verification, coordination of observers) (see paras. 32 and 33 below) have begun to increase, following a decade in which few of these requests were made. While in the past, the increasing involvement of regional organizations in observation-type exercises was regarded as positive by the Electoral Assistance Division, diverging methodologies for observation have generated concern. The United Nations has begun to address this by working with organizations to achieve agreement on basic standards of observation.

A. Technical assistance


32. The review period also saw an increase in observation-related projects, especially support to international observers (for example, in Bougainville, Ghana, Indonesia, Lebanon and Palestine). Under this modality of assistance, observation experts work with observer organizations and the national Government to brief observers and offer them common facilities so as to ensure that different observation groups cooperate in their deployment plans and, if desired, issue a joint statement. In Lebanon, for example, international observers were invited for the first time, on the occasion of the 2005 parliamentary elections, and a small Electoral Assistance Division team assisted the Government with accrediting and briefing observer groups.

33. Of particular note was the establishment of a liaison office among international observer groups, the Central Electoral Commission of Palestine and the Israeli Foreign Ministry to certify and accredit organizations that wished to observe the December 2004 Palestinian elections. The liaison office drafted a code of conduct and assisted in the coordination of deployment plans, provided background materials, conducted briefings on logistics and security, and also interacted with the relevant authorities to ensure safe and rapid passage of observers through checkpoints. In 2005, the Central Electoral Commission of Palestine again requested the United Nations to provide similar support for the upcoming legislative elections.



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