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The Organization of American States (OAS) deployed six electoral observation missions in five countries of the Americas in 2017, with 373 international experts and observers present at more than 2,000 polling stations, according to the Annual Report of the OAS Department of Electoral Cooperation and Observation (DECO) presented this week. The OAS Missions observed presidential, legislative, municipal, local and parliamentary elections that affected the lives of more than 43 million citizens of the Americas.
The OAS Secretary General, Luis Almagro, highlighted the work done by the Electoral Observation Missions (EOMs) of the Organization, as an essential element for the strengthening of democracies. "The OAS EOMs showed impeccable technical rigor in the face of complex electoral processes in 2017, and their recommendations are the starting point in improving the electoral systems of the region," he said.
For his part, the Acting Secretary for Strengthening Democracy, Gerardo de Icaza, described the work carried out during 2017 in the electoral area as "an important advance towards the objectives of inclusion and participation that we have set for ourselves. With the ongoing professionalization of our Missions, we consolidate the role of the OAS as an Organization committed to democracy and its strengthening."
During 2017, the Electoral Observation Missions (EOM) conducted by the OAS were:
HAITI · January 29
ECUADOR 1st round · February 19
ECUADOR 2nd round · April 2
THE BAHAMAS · May 10
NICARAGUA · November 5
HONDURAS · November 26
At the conclusion of each EOM, a final report was presented to the OAS Permanent Council and the country where the observation took place, with findings, observations and recommendations for strengthening the national electoral system. All reports are available here
In addition to the EOMs, a Mission of Electoral Experts accompanied the election of judicial authorities in Bolivia, a unique model at the international level. At the same time, technical delegations were deployed for the primary elections in Honduras and Paraguay.
The 2017 Annual Report explains that, in addition to the deployment of the Observation Missions, the OAS also worked on matters of professionalization of observation, follow-up on mission recommendations and funds management and details that, as part of the efforts to achieve greater impact and coordination, the OAS:
promoted inter-institutional exchanges with its electoral counterparts in the region and globally
- brought together 28 electoral bodies from 20 countries of the Hemisphere at the Twelfth Inter-American Meeting of Electoral Management Bodies
- Hosted the Meeting of the Signatory Organizations of the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation, which brought together 64 participants from 21 organizations from around the world dedicated to international election observation.
Some achievements highlighted in the report include:
The training of 122 representatives of the public sector and civil society from 20 OAS member countries, plus Spain, Comoros and South Korea in the conceptual, technical and logistical aspects of the OAS EOM.
- Cooperation in Bolivia for the Comprehensive Audit of its Biometric Electoral Registry, which included fieldwork to learn the degree of coverage and updating of the registry, face-to-face interviews and analysis of current regulations, and aspects related to the rights of inclusion of the native indigenous nations and peoples.
- Delivery of the audit report to the Plurinational Electoral Body of Bolivia with short, medium and long term recommendations.
- During the 12th Inter-American Meeting of Electoral Management Bodies (RAE), experiences and best practices were exchanged, the relationship between DECO and the authorities of the region was strengthened, and a decision was made to produce a Code of Best Practices in Electoral Matters.
- At the 12th meeting of the Signatory Organizations of the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation, the capacities of the participating organizations to observe processes of direct democracy, electoral justice and the impact of the internet on electoral campaigns were strengthened.
During 2018, the OAS plans to carry out or has already conducted Observation Missions in at least 7 countries in the region: Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico and Paraguay.
The report also appreciates the contributions for the fulfillment of the outlined tasks by the donor countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, the Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Honduras, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States.
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