EPDE ANNUAL CONFERENCE

Follow-up on Recommendations‘ Implementation
Conference 2023

28-29 November 2023
Comet Meetings, Brussels
live stream
New synergies for democratic elections in Europe

The FURIC conference, organized by the European Platform for Democratic Elections, is a joint effort of citizen election observation organizations in Europe to identify methods of strengthening democratic electoral standards by promoting synergies between national and international election observers throughout the electoral cycle.

The conference features a public high-level panel and closed expert sessions. Please register for the high-level panel above. The expert sessions are upon invitation only.

29 speakers

6 Panel discussions

2 days

Dame Audrey Glover

Former Director of OSCE/ODIHR

Patrick Merloe

Independent Election Expert

Olha Aivazovska

Chair of the boards of the Civil Network OPORA, Ukraine, and of the Global Network of Domestic Election Monitors (GNDEM)

Nacho Sánchez Amor

Member of the European Parliament, Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Human Rights, Delegation to the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly

Stefanie Schiffer

Chair of the board, European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE)

Anna Frydrych-Depka

Electoral law expert at the Political Accountability Foundation and assistant professor at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń

Mette Bakken

Policy Officer, European External Action Service (EEAS)

Najia Hashemee

Regional Advisor for Inclusive Institutions and Processes, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Arab States

Ivi-Triin Odrats

Deputy Head of Election Observation and Support Division, Parliamentary Asssembly of the Council of Europe (PACE)

Adam Busuleanu

Senior Programme Officer, European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE)

Nino Dolidze

Executive Director, International Society for Free Elections and Democracy (ISFED), Georgia

Iryna Shvets

Director at OPORA Lviv, Board Member at Civil Network OPORA

Alexander Shlyk

Independent Election Expert

Vardine Grigoryan

Democracy Monitoring and Reporting Coordinator, Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Vanadzor (HCAV), Armenia

Nicolae Panfil

Program Director, Associatia Promo-Lex, Moldova

Paul James

Program Manager (Elections), Yiaga Africa

Ulvi Akhundlu

Deputy Head, Election Department, OSCE-ODIHR

Harald Hartvig Jepsen

International Senior Adviser, The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES)

Mulle Musau

National Coordinator, Elections Observation Group (ELOG); Regional Coordinator, East and Horn ofAfrica Elections Observation Network (EHORN)

Holly Ruthrauff

Team Leader, Election Observation and Democracy Support (EODS)

Sona Aivazyan

Deputy Director, Transparency International Anti-Corruption Center (TIAC), Armenia

Pierre Peytier

Head of Department for Democracy and Elections, European Network of Election Observation Organisations (ENEMO)

Laura Thornton

Senior Vice President of Democracy, The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF)

Tatyana Hilscher-Bogussevich

Independent Election Expert

Zofia Lutkiewicz

President, Political Accountability Foundation, Poland

Melene Glynn

Specialist, Department for Electoral Cooperation and Observation, Organization of American States (OAS)

Prof. Carsten Schürmann

Principal Investigator, DemTech Project, University of Copenhagen

Beata Martin-Rozumilowicz

Independent Election Expert

Dame Audrey Glover

Former Director of OSCE/ODIHR

Patrick Merloe

Independent Election Expert

Olha Aivazovska

Chair of the boards of the Civil Network OPORA, Ukraine, and of the Global Network of Domestic Election Monitors (GNDEM)

Nacho Sánchez Amor

Member of the European Parliament, Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Human Rights, Delegation to the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly

Stefanie Schiffer

Chair of the board, European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE)

Anna Frydrych-Depka

Electoral law expert at the Political Accountability Foundation and assistant professor at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń

Mette Bakken

Policy Officer, European External Action Service (EEAS)

Najia Hashemee

Regional Advisor for Inclusive Institutions and Processes, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Arab States

Ivi-Triin Odrats

Deputy Head of Election Observation and Support Division, Parliamentary Asssembly of the Council of Europe (PACE)

Adam Busuleanu

Senior Programme Officer, European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE)

Nino Dolidze

Executive Director, International Society for Free Elections and Democracy (ISFED), Georgia

Iryna Shvets

Director at OPORA Lviv, Board Member at Civil Network OPORA

Alexander Shlyk

Independent Election Expert

Nicolae Panfil

Program Director, Associatia Promo-Lex, Moldova

Vardine Grigoryan

Democracy Monitoring and Reporting Coordinator, Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Vanadzor (HCAV), Armenia
More about our speakers

28 November

high-level SESSION
17.00 – 19.00

RECEPTION
19.00 – 21.00

Stefanie Schiffer

Chair of the board, European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE)

Welcome and Moderation

Patrick Merloe

Independent Election Expert

Key notes

Dame Audrey Glover

Former Director of OSCE/ODIHR

Key notes

Olha Aivazovska

Chair of the boards of the Civil Network OPORA, Ukraine, and of the Global Network of Domestic Election Monitors (GNDEM)

Nacho Sánchez Amor

Member of the European Parliament, Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs,
Subcommittee on Human Rights,
Delegation to the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly

It is a common understanding that systematic dialogue between citizen and international election observers contributes greatly to electoral reform, including through legislative improvements. Cooperation between these two groups also helps develop methodologies to respond to emerging challenges as closing democratic space, cyber-security threats and other global challenges.

Read more >

In this session, panelists will address the following guiding questions:

How do these and other aspects of the current context impact the environment in which citizen and international observers operate?

What challenges and opportunities emerge from this situation for the cooperation between independent international and citizen election observers in the OSCE region?

How can international institutions, such as the EU, the Council of Europe and the OSCE/ODIHR, protect and improve the functioning of their election observation under the described threats?

How did international institutions prevent or react to the challenges posed by authoritarian states in the past and what lessons can be drawn?

What structural, institutional, political reforms are needed to safeguard the proper functioning of citizen and international election observation in the OSCE region?

What concrete steps should be taken to protect and promote electoral reform through better co-operation between citizen and international observers?

29 November 2023

PLENARY Session: Aiming for synergies for electoral reform

9.30 – 11.00

This session provides an answer to the question of how to shape cooperation between civil society organizations and international observers in formulating recommendations and conducting follow-up activities throughout the entire electoral cycle. The goal is to initiate a new look at the potential of election observation at both the national and international levels and to develop new synergy approaches for democratic electoral reforms in Europe.

Nino Dolidze

Executive Director, International Society for Free Elections and Democracy (ISFED), Georgia

mette bakken

Policy Officer, European External Action Service (EEAS)

Ulvi Akhundlu

Deputy Head, Election Department, OSCE/ODIHR

Zofia Lutkiewicz

President, Political Accountability Foundation, Poland

Alexander Shlyk

Independent Election Expert

Moderator

Guiding questions:

How can citizen and international observers reinforce each other’s efforts to have governments implement recommendations and improve elections?

What are specific ways to strengthen co-operation and exchange of information?

How can cooperation between citizen and international observers address changes of political context and developments of electoral practices?

Parallel Sessions
11.30 – 13.30

The overall need for synergies between citizen and international observers will be discussed in working groups. Special focus will be on the three pillars for greater synergies: (I) formulation, presentation and tracking of recommendations, (II) advocacy and reform in the follow-up, and (III) long-term electoral issues.

Session I: Recommendations - how do we formulate, present, and track them?

Formulating recommendations is an essential part of election observation. The ways in which different organizations formulate recommendations vary significantly. Co-operation between international and citizen observers hinges on synergies in their recommendations, as well as the process of bringing them to life between the elections and keeping track of the progress.

Vardine Grigoryan

Democracy Monitoring and Reporting Coordinator at Helsinki Citizens' Assembly - Vanadzor (HCAV), Armenia

Nicolae Panfil

Program Director, Associatia Promo-Lex, Moldova

Pierre PEYTIER

Head of Department for Democracy and Elections, European Network of Election Observation Organisations (ENEMO)

Melene Glynn

Specialist, Department for Electoral Cooperation and Observation, Organization of American States (OAS)

Tatyana Hilscher-Bogussevich

Independent Election Expert

Moderator

Guiding questions:

How can international and citizen observers coordinate better in the formulation of recommendations? When should they meet? How often? What information can and should they exchange?

How can citizen and international observers involve each other in the presentation of their respective recommendations? What limitations they face in this co-ordination?

What tools do the organizations use to keep track of the recommendations and their implementation? Are methodologies compatible? What lessons have been learned so far?

Session II: Pushing for electoral reforms together - advocacy practices and cooperation

Electoral reform is the desired outcome of any observation effort. Reform is generally preceded by the advocacy efforts to promote the need of the reform and to highlight the priority areas. International and citizen observers engage in such efforts, and often in the same forums. Their messages do not always coincide, creating a risk of misalignment in the efforts of the two communities and possibly impeding their cooperation during the reform efforts

Sona Ayvazyan

Executive Director, Transparency International Anticorruption Centre (TIAC), Armenia

Iryna Shvets

Director at OPORA Lviv, Board Member at Civil Network OPORA

Holly Ruthrauff

Team Leader, Election Observation and Democracy Support (EODS)

Paul James

Program Manager (Elections), Yiaga Africa

Harald Hartvig Jepsen

International Senior Adviser, International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES)

Moderator

Guiding questions:

How can international and citizen observers better coordinate prioritization of areas for electoral reform?

What can be the relative strengths and weaknesses of the two communities in the electoral reform process, and how can they complement each other?

What can be the practical mechanisms for the coordinated involvement of both citizen and international actors in the reform process? When and how should such mechanisms be initiated?

Session III: Combining strengths of observer communities for long-term electoral issues

Citizen election observers have the distinct advantage of following the electoral and political process in its completeness, including between the elections. At the same time, international actors often have greater comparative knowledge and more extensive connections with global actors. Practical mechanisms for the exchange of information can be explored to identify how the findings and assessments by citizen observers from the period between the elections can feed into the observation findings and inform the recommendations. This is relevant in the sphere of political party financial reports, procurement, testing and certification of electoral technologies, online political campaigning, as well as the use of disinformation in social media.

Prof. Carsten Schürmann

Principal Investigator, DemTech Project, University of Copenhagen

Anna Frydrych-Depka

Electoral law expert at the Political Accountability Foundation and assistant professor at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń

Mulle Musau

National Coordinator, Elections Observation Group (ELOG); Regional Coordinator, East and Horn of Africa Elections Observation Network (EHORN)

Najia Hashemee

Regional Advisor for Inclusive Institutions and Processes, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Arab States

Beata Martin-Rozumilowicz

Independent Election Expert

Moderator

Guiding questions:

What parts of the electoral cycle can citizen observers follow more closely than international actors? How can their observations feed into the activities of the international actors to promote common objectives?

What kind of support may citizen observers require to be better able to follow all parts of the electoral cycle? Are existing funding modalities adequate for the cyclical electoral process?

What support can international observation organizations offer that would better support the work of credible citizen observers?

Plenary session: Looking ahead: collaborative visions of election integrity

15.00 – 16.30

During this session, representatives of the three parallel sessions will present their findings and suggestions for the Conclusion Document of the FURIC conference. Panelists will share insights and provide recommendations to enhance collaboration between citizens and international election observers. Attendees are encouraged to actively engage by offering feedback on the draft Conclusion Document, expressing their commitment to implementing the outlined suggestions and recommendations. The discussion also aims to look ahead and identify the next steps in the development of citizen election observation in Europe and around the world.

Laura Thornton

Senior Vice President of Democracy, The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF)

Patrick Merloe

Independent Election Expert

Adam Busuleanu

Senior Programme Officer, European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE)

Ivi-Triin Odrats

Deputy Head of Election Observation and Support Division, Parliamentary Asssembly of the Council of Europe (PACE)

Alexander Shlyk

Independent Election Expert

Moderator

Guiding questions:

What are the concrete steps to be taken to have cooperation between international and citizen observers lead to the improvement of elections?

When and how should international and citizen observers exchange information?

What is the scope for the development and exchange of observation methodologies?
What are the needs of citizen observers and how international community can support them?
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