OSCE – HDIM, Working session 17, Thursday, October 9th 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen,
The International Federation for Human Rights wishes to commend ODIHR’s leading role and
contribution in the field of electoral process in the OSCE area. Despite some criticism, coming
mostly from participating States which have difficulties in implementing ODIHR’s
recommendations in this field, due to the absence of political willingness, the Office for Democratic
Institutions and Human Rights has developed throughout all these years a complete and well defined
methodology to address challenges and issues related to the electoral process.
FIDH reminds that elections are the cornerstone of democracy, and thus undemocratic or not
democratically elected governments cannot be trustworthy and legitimised interlocutors of the
international community.
The International Federation for Human Rights is not surprised that the Russian Federation
criticises more and more openly the electoral observation of OSCE and ODIHR in particular.
While no proper OSCE observation was able to follow the electoral campaign of December 2 2007,
and both the European Union and OSCE criticised the way the elections were held, in particular
because of the acts of harassment against members of the opposition and Non­Governmental
Organizations, the Russian authorities respond to this criticism in a particularly aggressive manner,
making no effort to avoid confrontation.
FIDH notes that as the OSCE had not been able to carry out an election observation mission the
local NGOs were the only independent observers able to follow the electoral campaign and
denounce irregularities during the December elections. FIDH wishes to draw OSCE’s attention to
the fact that the day before the elections, the members of the Voice, an association comprising 281
NGOs with sections in 40 Russian regions for observing the elections, were subjected to
unprecedented pressure on the part of the authorities.
If the Russian Federation, as the delegation affirmed this morning, does not wish to see the West
observe and validate the elections, then FIDH takes the opportunity to call the Russian government
to allow its own citizens and the Russian civil society to follow the electoral process.
Taking this as an example, FIDH underlines the importance of the rôle played by national and local
actors during the elections, especially in countries such as Turkmenistan, where in February 14,
2007 during the elections, the Chairman of the Electoral Commission stated that « he would do
everything » to ensure that Mr. Berdymukhamedov won the elections. No surprise that the current
president won the elections with 89,2% of the vote, a performance worthy of his predecessor.
Again, before the elections and the visit of the OSCE delegation in February 2007, in support of the
upcoming elections, representatives of civil society were intimidated by the Ministry of National
Security and warned of the dangers that would ensue for them, in case they have contacts with the
delegation.
FIDH calls all OSCE institutions, participating States and other international actors to adopt a
coherent approach regarding the elaboration of common policies based on the reports of ODIHR
regarding the free and fair elections in a given country. For example, FIDH expects the European
Union to respect the benchmark that EU imposed itself and take into consideration the fact that the
last elections in Belarus were neither fair nor democratic. Both national independent observers from
« Human Rights Defenders for free elections » campaign, and the ODIHR / OSCE mission noted
that although some minor improvements had taken place in the election process, as a whole the
elections are neither fair nor transparent. The complete absence of members of the opposition in the
newly elected parliament is probably the most blatant demonstration of the true nature of this
election campaign. The EU should continue defining its policy regarding Belarus on the assessment
of OSCE convening the last electoral farce.
Lastly, Mr. Chairman, FIDH recommends that a more concrete and dynamic follow up should be
made at the political level of the OSCE. Indeed the Permanent Council should assume the
implementation by the States convened of ODIHR’s recommendation and establish concrete
benchmarks and deadlines that all Participating States should observe if they wish to be called
democratic. FIDH wishes to remind everyone in this room that one main success of the OSCE is the
human dimension, in particular the elections observation mission. Undermining human rights, and
their interrelated and universal character would deprive the Organization of its relevancy today, as
for FIDH human rights means security for Sates and people.
Thank you Mr. Chairman.

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