OSCE and EU Parliamentarians discuss challenges fake observers present to democratic development

Nacho Sanchez Amor (bottom right) participates in online discussion about election observation, 9 July 2020Nacho Sanchez Amor (bottom right) participates in online discussion about election observation, 9 July 2020COPENHAGEN, 9 July 2020 – The Vice-Chair of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s human rights committee, Michael Georg Link (Germany), and Secretary General Roberto Montella discussed today with European Parliament member Nacho Sanchez Amor the need for increased efforts by parliaments to combat fake election observation activities. The practice of state authorities and their proxy organizations arranging visits for international actors outside of the institutional international election observation platforms organized under the auspices of the OSCE/ODIHR, OSCE PA, PACE, NATO PA and the European Parliament is a growing challenge, they said.

Link, a Member of Parliament in Germany and former director of the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, and Ignacio Sanchez Amor, a Member of the European Parliament from Spain, have extensive experience from leading election observation missions across the OSCE region and beyond.

“Observation as a practice is under threat from those who want to avoid genuine scrutiny, and we must take this threat seriously,” said Link. “Election observation is not something you can do alone. Individual visits by people invited by state authorities is not the same as a comprehensive mission deployed by an internationally mandated organization such as the OSCE which builds on experience from numerous previous observation missions, ODIHR’s methodology and on the political wisdom, backing and importance of the parliamentarians from the OSCE PA. We have seen it many times, including just last week, with visiting foreigners put on camera to lend an aura of legitimacy to the referendum held in Russia.”

Link and Sanchez Amor called for further attention by the Assembly to this practice of fake observation. They noted that the media also have an important responsibility to contextualize comments on election conduct, taking care not to equate individuals' opinions with methodical observation.

“Some of the countries most in need of diligent observation that can contribute to transparency are more and more looking for ways to avoid it. We cannot allow efforts to muddy the waters by empowering fake observers to be successful or to undermine genuine and credible observation as we in the European Parliament and OSCE practice it,” said Sanchez Amor, who is active in EP activities related to election observation.

Secretary General Montella noted that the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly draws on experience from observing more than 180 electoral processes in 35 countries since 1993. “Parliamentary leadership of observation missions, supported by experts and with a clear and coherent methodology developed through the years by the ODIHR enables the OSCE to have unmatched credibility in this field,” he said. “I welcome our increasing co-operation with the European Parliament and other partners in counteracting fake observation, building upon our own internal efforts within the OSCE PA.”

In 2019 the OSCE PA updated guidelines related to election observation, strengthening transparency and accountability of internal procedures. In 2018 the European Parliament’s Democracy support and Election Coordination Group adopted a procedure which may lead to exclusion from participation in further election observation delegations if an MEP undertakes individual unofficial election observation.

In its 2018 Berlin Declaration, the OSCE PA expressed concern about “the proliferation of unprofessional election monitoring, often promoted by host governments, which undermines public trust in election observation overall,” calling on parliaments “to refrain from participating in election observation processes that are not based on well-organized and transparent processes with a systematic methodology, and to publicly affirm that OSCE-led Election Observation Missions take precedence over bilateral arrangements.”

Link, Sanchez Amor and Montella agreed to continue close co-operation in efforts to ensure that credible observation, as practiced by the OSCE and European Parliament, are not seriously damaged by fake or biased observation.

For more on the OSCE PA's election observation activities, please click here.



Nat Parry

Head of Communications and Press

Office: +45 33 37 80 55
Mobile: +45 60 10 81 77
Email: [email protected]

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