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The Kofi Annan Commission on Elections and Democracy in the Digital Age

Key Question

“How can we mitigate the risks of digital innovation to our elections while harnessing the opportunities to strengthen democracy worldwide?”

In a staggeringly short period, digital technologies and social media platforms have profoundly altered democratic processes and the electoral environment.

While these developments have unequalled potential to engage, empower and educate voters, and to strengthen the integrity of elections, they also create new challenges and risks for fundamental democratic processes and citizen’s political rights.

Through the Kofi Annan Commission on Elections and Democracy in the Digital Age, the Kofi Annan Foundation and its partners have provided a series of actions to ensure that new technologies, social media platforms and communications tools can realise citizens aspirations for democratic governance.

Download the KACEDDA Final Report

Critical Challenges

I. Hate Speech

II. Disinformation

III. Political Advertising

IV. Foreign Interference

hate speech


The internet has facilitated offensive and abusive discussion while allowing users to remain anonymous. This is particularly problematic around elections, where online hate speech can drive violence in the real world.

One of our suggestions to counter hate speech is for social media platforms to develop early warning systems for election-related hate crimes, threats to women, or calls to violence.

Download the Report


Challenge II: High Levels of Disinformation

High levels of disinformation around an election prevent voters from making informed decisions and create distrust in media and in democratic institutions.

We call on social media companies to come together and create strategies for detecting and limiting the reach of weaponized disinformation and hate speech, as they have done to address terrorism and child exploitation.

Download the Report

political advertising

Challenge III: Political Advertising

The internet has revolutionised how candidates can reach voters with huge benefits for democracy and democratic values. But malicious actors can also push polarizing and misleading messages, with potentially devastating results.

Our full report calls on governments to take responsibility for defining what should and should not be considered a political advertisement, and we call on platforms to give users the option to opt-out or opt-in to political advertising.

Download the Report

foreign interference

Challenge IV: Foreign Interference in Elections

One of the most fundamental challenges to democracies is to protect elections from foreign interference and ensure that it is the voters, and not outside actors, who determine the winner.

To protect elections from interference, we call on democratic governments to establish an international convention regarding the role of foreign governments and their agents in other countries’ elections.

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Key Findings

  • Democracies in the Global South are the most vulnerable to digital threats;
  • The rise of the transnational business of election influencing poses risks to democracy if it is not regulated;
  • Countries with pre-existing polarization, a history of violence, and highly partisan media are particularly vulnerable to the weaponization of social media;
  • Current debate on the impact of digital platforms is informed by claims based on inconclusive evidence and competing or incomplete data.

Key Recommendations

  • Governments should establish an international convention regulating cross-border engagement to distinguish legitimate electoral assistance from illicit or unlawful interventions;
  • Countries must adapt their political advertising regulations to the online environment. In particular, the definition of political advertising should be a matter of law, defined by governments;
  • Industry, governments, and civil society actors concerned about the integrity of elections should create a global code of conduct defining the role of political consultancies and vendors of election equipment;
  • Social media platforms should create a coalition to address digital threats to democracy, as they have done collaboratively to address terrorism or child exploitation.