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Supporting Elections and Democracy

Global Commission on Elections, Democracy & Security

The Global Commission on Elections, Democracy and Security, jointly established in 2010 by the Kofi Annan Foundation and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA), aimed to promote and protect the integrity of the electoral process, which is fundamental to achieving a more secure, prosperous and stable world.

Launch of Deepening Democracy

Deepening Democracy: A Strategy for Improving the Integrity of Elections Worldwide,was launched on September 14 2012, at the Royal Society in London.

BBC Correspondent Lyse Doucet hosted a Panel Discussion with Chairman of the Global Commission, Mr. Kofi Annan, Vice-Chair and Former President of Mexico, Dr. Ernesto Zedillo, and Commission member and Former Foreign Minister of Indonesia, Dr. Hassan Wirajuda. This was followed by a discussion with invited guests and Commission Members Martti Ahtisaari, Festus Mogae, and Vidar Helgesen, and a question and answer session with media.

The launch was live-streamed on our website, and the website of the Global Commission on Elections, Democracy and Security.

An electronic version of the Report is now available on this site.

Contact Information

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Deepening Democracy In the Press

Annan: Why we should grade countries on their elections: Op-ed by Mr. Annan on CNN, September 18.

Link to Op-ed

US election system criticised over finance rules and voting restrictions: Article by The Guardian’s Karen McVeigh, September 14.

Link to Article

Annan Commission Criticises US Election Financing: Interview with Voice of America, September 14.

Link to Interview

 “Building democracy is a complex process. Elections are only a starting point but if their integrity is compromised, so is the legitimacy of democracy.” – Kofi A. Annan.

The Commission launched its Report, Deepening Democracy: a Strategy for Improving the Integrity of Elections Worldwide, on September 14 2012, in London.

“At its root, electoral integrity is a political problem. Power, and the competition for power, must be regulated. It is not enough for governments to create institutions; politicians must respect and safeguard the independence and professionalism of election officials, judges and courts.”

Deepening Democracy: A Strategy for Improving the Integrity of Elections Worldwide

An extract from Kofi Annan’s foreword to “Deepening Democracy” 

The spread of democracy across the world has been one of the most dramatic changes I have witnessed over the course of my career. In country after country, people have risked their lives to call for free elections, democratic accountability, the rule of law and respect for human rights.

Elections are the indispensable root of democracy. They are now almost universal. Since 2000, all but 11 countries have held national elections. But to be credible, we need to see high standards before, during and after votes are cast. Opposition organizations must be free to organize and campaign without fear. There must be a level playing field among candidates. On polling day, voters must feel safe and trust the secrecy and integrity of the ballot. And when the votes have been counted the result must be accepted no matter how disappointed the defeated candidates feel.

When the electorate believes that elections have been free and fair, they can be a powerful catalyst for better governance, greater security and human development. But in the absence of credible elections, citizens have no recourse to peaceful political change. The risk of conflict increases while corruption, intimidation, and fraud go unchecked, rotting the entire political system slowly from within.

I experienced this first-hand when the flawed presidential elections in Kenya in 2007 led to uncontrolled violence, killing and displacement of people. I have seen, too, how much of Africa’s progress in the last decade risks being reversed by the “winner takes all” approach to elections and power, which has been extraordinarily damaging to the continent.

So while elections have never been more universal and important, their benefits are by no means assured. Elections have recently been used by autocratic governments to wrap themselves in a veneer of democratic legitimacy. New democracies are struggling to consolidate democratic gains, while growing inequality is putting pressure on many older democracies to show that they are relevant to citizens’ concerns and well-being. Across the world, uncontrolled political finance threatens to hollow out democracy and rob it of its unique strengths.

It was to address these concerns and point to solutions that I invited a group of distinguished former leaders and eminent experts to consider how to promote and protect the integrity of elections.

From my experience, I have learned that healthy societies are built on three pillars: peace and security; economic development; and the rule of law and respect for human rights. For too long, we have given priority to the first two pillars and neglected the third. In looking ahead to the challenges facing the international community, I believe the time is ripe to underscore the rule of law, democratic governance and citizen empowerment as integral elements to achieving sustainable development, security and a durable peace.

Kofi A. Annan
Chair, Global Commission on
Elections, Democracy and Security


“Elections with integrity are catalytic for development, for anti-corruption, for empowerment, for women’s rights.”


Quotes from Deepening Democracy

On political financing:

 “Political finance has not received the attention and commitment to reform that it deserves. In a world of increasing economic inequalities, greater concentrations of wealth within democracies, and global economic recession, political finance is a challenge that will only grow in salience.”

 On the responsibilities of Governments;

 “Governments must take forceful steps to ensure the politically impartial and effective functioning of the whole range of state institutions, including public safety and security  agencies, prosecutors and courts, as well as competent Electoral Management Bodies, to guarantee elections with integrity.”

 On the need for a consistent approach to democratic ideals:

 “We still live in a world in which states act on their strategic interests. The key lies in reminding democratic governments that their strategic interest is best served by supporting elections with integrity.”

“It is time that we start focusing on what it takes to have real, meaningful elections, what we call elections with integrity.”

“You cannot have a strong democracy if you do not have good rules and institutions, good practices and culture, to conduct electoral processes.”