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Jimmy Carter, Carter Center Endorse International Election Observation Declaration

WASHINGTON D.C. – Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, founder of The Carter Center, joined National Democratic Institute Chairman and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan Oct. 27, 2005, to unveil a Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation. Together with the secretaries-general of the Organization of American States, Inter-Parliamentary Union, and Pacific Islands Forum, as well as senior representatives of election observation groups worldwide, including the African Union, the Asian Network for Free Elections, the Commonwealth, the European Commission, and the OSCE Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, they launched the Declaration at an endorsing ceremony at U.N. headquarters in New York.

International election observation has become central to helping nations around the world consolidate peace and strengthen democracy.

The 12-page Declaration of Principles and its accompanying Code of Conduct - initiated by the United Nations Electoral Assistance Division, the NDI, and the Carter Center, which served as the secretariat for the project - bring participating observer groups for the first time under a common set of standards for professional, impartial and effective observation. They are intended to establish consensus on key principles, to provide guidelines for best practices for the growing field of election observation, to protect the integrity of democratic elections and help advance democratic transitions.

Read the declaration's full text (PDF) in English, Spanish, Russian, French, Chinese, Arabic, or Portuguese.

"Our hope is that the Declaration will enable consistency among observer groups and ensure the effectiveness and credibility of observation missions worldwide," said former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

"This Declaration brings together an unprecedented group of international organizations in support of the principles of international election observation," said NDI Chairman and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. "It is a major landmark in developing an international consensus on the standards for election observation."

Endorsing organizations commit themselves, for example: to act impartially; monitor all stages of the election process; and accept no funding from the host government. The common standards also establish prerequisites for observation, such as freedom of movement, freedom to make public statements and free access to information. They are also specific about the principle of ensuring that sending monitors not be done in a way that lends undue legitimacy to undemocratic elections.

In addition to the United Nations, organizations participating in the meeting included:

  • African Union
  • Asian Network for Free Elections
  • The Carter Center
  • Center for Electoral Promotion and Advice of the Inter-American Institute for Human Rights
  • Commonwealth Secretariat
  • Electoral Institute of Southern Africa
  • European Commission
  • European Network of Electoral Monitoring Organizations
  • Electoral Reform International Services
  • IFES
  • La Francophonie
  • International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance
  • Inter-parliamentary Union
  • International Republican Institute
  • National Democratic Institute
  • Organization of American States
  • Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe - Office of Democratic Institutions and Human
  • Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
  • Pacific Islands Australia New Zealand Electoral Administrators Network
  • Pacific Island Forum
  • Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum.

Read the declaration's full text (PDF) in English, Spanish, Russian, French, Chinese, Arabic, or Portuguese.

Read a Q&A on the Declaration of Principles and Code of Conduct with Democracy Program Director David Carroll.

Other organizations active in electoral observation were invited during the event to endorse the new standards.


NDI is a nonprofit organization working to strengthen and expand democracy worldwide. Calling on a global network of volunteer experts, NDI provides practical assistance to civic and political leaders advancing democratic values, practices and institutions. NDI works with democrats in every region of the world to build political and civic organizations, safeguard elections, and to promote citizen participation, openness and accountability in government. For more information visit

The Carter Center is a not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, committed to advancing peace and health worldwide.

Photo credit: Carter Center /A. Poyo
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, joined by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, addresses the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation event held Oct. 27, 2005, in New York.

Photo Credit: United Nations
Organizational representatives gather at U.N. headquarters in New York for the launching of the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation.

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