Two (or Five, or Ten) Heads Are Better Than One: The Need for an Integrated Effort to International Election Monitoring

By Ricker, Rachel | Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, October 2006 | Go to article overview

Two (or Five, or Ten) Heads Are Better Than One: The Need for an Integrated Effort to International Election Monitoring


Ricker, Rachel, Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law


ABSTRACT

Election monitoring efforts have a crucial role to play in attaining the goals of self-determination and democratic sovereignty. Yet current election monitoring practice suffers from variance in the goals, standards, and strategies employed by the many organizations that engage in election monitoring and observation programs. This Note examines the current state of election monitoring within the framework for analyzing the legitimacy of rules proposed by Thomas Franck in his 1992 article The Emerging Right to Democratic Governance, and concludes that the shortcomings of the current system fail to address many necessary aspects of legitimate self-governance of monitored nations. The Author advocates an integrated and coordinated approach between monitoring organizations and effective and appropriate use of developing technological tools in order to improve the ability of election monitoring to aid in attaining the goal of self-determination.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  I. INTRODUCTION
 II. ORIGINS AND HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF
     THE ELECTION MONITORING SYSTEM
III. MAJOR ACTORS IN ELECTION MONITORING
     A. The United Nations
     B. Regional Inter-Governmental Organizations
        1. The Organization of American States
        2. The Organization for Security and
           Cooperation in Europe
        3. The Organization of African Unity
        4. The Asia Foundation
        5. The European Union
     C. The International Institute for Democracy
        and Electoral Assistance
     D. NGOs
     E. Domestic Organizations within Target States
     F. National Organizations from States Other
        Than Those Targeted
 IV. ELECTION MONITORING STANDARDS AGAINST
     THEIR THEORETICAL BACKDROP
     A. The International Legal Right to Self-Governance
        and Self-Determination
     B. Election Monitoring Standards within
        Franck's Framework for Legitimacy
        of Self-Determination Rules
        1. Pedigree
        2. Determinacy
        3. Coherence
           a. Blind Eye to the Dependency on
              other Basic Rights
           b. Recognizing When Higher
           Pressure is Necessary
        4. Adherence
           a. Lack of Flexibility
           b. Danger of False Legitimacy
           c. Monitors as a Recognized,
              Independent Entity
  V. PROPOSED SOLUTION: A MONITORING SYSTEM
     THAT ATTAINS LEGITIMACY AND GUIDES
     NATIONS TOWARD SELF-DETERMINATION
     A. Integration of Organizations
     B. An Integrated System Within Franck's
        Framework of Analysis
        1. Pedigree
        2. Determinacy
        3. Coherence
        4. Adherence
     C. Pragmatic Advantages of an Integrated
        Effort
 VI. CONCLUSION

I. INTRODUCTION

The recent elections in Iraq and Afghanistan, the highly publicized election cycle in Ukraine, and the spectacle of the 2000 U.S. presidential election have brought questions of electoral fairness and democratic legitimacy to the highest level of visibility in popular culture since the wave of democratization in developing nations in the late 1980s. Media focus on these elections predictably centers on whether the outcomes of the elections were fair and whether they reflected the "will of the people." Given our history of strong electoral democracy, it is not surprising that the U.S. bias on elections is to demand such standards. Not all nations, however, can be expected to understand this bias, much less produce election results in accordance with it.

A number of inter-governmental organizations (IGOs) and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have developed and published guidelines for the evaluation of election fairness. Too much is expected from these guidelines, however. Most monitoring organizations formulate a method of evaluation based on general standards geared to determine whether or not a particular election was "free and fair," (1) or whether the result truly reflected the "will of the people. …

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