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Elections are central for citizens to legitimise government and to hold it accountable. The right to stand for elections and the right to vote are both human rights that are enshrined in legally binding treaties, for example, in Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.


Almost all states hold regular elections, but many fall short of international obligations. We look beyond election days at the broader framework for elections. This includes the political context, the constitutional foundations defining the role of elected institutions, legislation and administrative practice, as well as the political will to change the status quo.

Together with many partners we:

    • Advocate with political actors for electoral reforms, often as follow-up to recommendations by election observers;
    • Support the establishment of advocacy platforms by civil society groups;
    • Publish comprehensive assessments of electoral frameworks;
    • Support citizen observation through training and deployment of experts;
    • Support effective media reporting on electoral reforms;
    • Research and disseminate information on international obligations for democratic elections.


Our methodology rests on two pillars. International law provides minimum conditions for genuine elections. In assessing electoral frameworks, we also look at comparative examples and the impact of certain arrangements in a given political context. For example, international law does not mandate a specific electoral system, but proportional systems mostly favour the representation of women.