The Commonwealth Charter recognises “the inalienable right of individuals to participate in democratic processes, in particular through free and fair elections in shaping the society in which they live.”
A democratic election takes place in an environment where there are multiple political parties, where there is confidence, transparency and accountability in the electoral process, and where voters are free to exercise an informed choice between alternative candidates for office.
The Commonwealth Secretariat helps member countries to strengthen democratic institutions and processes and enable citizen participation and representation at national and local levels during elections.
We do this by supporting electoral management bodies to exchange good practices in electoral administration through the Commonwealth Electoral Network and by responding to national requests for technical assistance and capacity building, including training for junior election officials.
Election observation is a valuable tool for improving the quality of elections and is a visible sign of a country’s commitment to strengthening democracy.
At the invitation of a country’s government or election commission, the Commonwealth Secretary-General will send a team of independent observers to give an impartial assessment of the conduct of an election and, where necessary, offer recommendations where improvements can be made.
Over the past quarter of a century, the Commonwealth has observed around 140 elections in nearly 40 countries across the globe.
The Commonwealth Observer Group, which monitored the 2016 Ghana general election, has concluded that the process was conducted in a ‘largely peaceful and vibrant manner’.
An election taskforce has been set up in the Pacific nation of Nauru to assess reforms put forward by international observers from the Commonwealth and Pacific Islands Forum.
The Vanuatu Electoral Office, which has a permanent staff of just seven, is preparing for provincial polls next month.