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Senior leaders join Kofi Annan’s Electoral Integrity Initiative

Senior leaders join Kofi Annan’s Electoral Integrity Initiative

Senior leaders join Kofi Annan’s Electoral Integrity Initiative

“When conducted in a true democratic spirit and not just as an exercise justifying an otherwise undemocratic hold on power, elections can deepen democracy, resolve conflict and bestow on a government the legitimacy necessary to govern effectively,” said Kofi Annan.

He was speaking at a recent high-level meeting on elections in Geneva with a panel of statesmen and women, convened by the Kofi Annan Foundation. The eminent group, which includes former heads of state and government from four continents, has agreed to join forces with Kofi Annan, his team and the core group of his Electoral Integrity Initiative (EII) to support credible and peaceful elections in selected countries around the world.

With their long histories of public service and knowledge of electoral processes from across the world, the Senior Panel brought new insights to the work of the EII, as well as interesting regional perspectives. Gordon Brown analysed the Scottish and Brexit referenda, President Obasanjo, of Nigeria, discussed trends in African politics while President Lagos, of Chile, and Hassan Wiarajuda, of Indonesia, stressed the hiatus between the breakneck socio-economic changes in Latin America and South-East Asia over the past decades and the much slower development of their regions’ politics, leading to friction.

The Panel drew particular attention to the danger of elections without integrity, which undermine public trust in democracy itself, pushing people towards undemocratic and radical alternatives to effect change. These discussions found a wider audience that evening at a lively public event held at Geneva’s Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies.

The work of the EII going forward will be greatly strengthened thanks to the invaluable support of this Senior Panel. Like Kofi Annan, they have access to the highest levels of government and have the political heft necessary to shape debates and influence practices.

With their support, the Foundation and its EII will have new opportunities for engagement and is actively exploring the role these influential figures can play in supporting elections with integrity in select countries.

Members of the EII Panel of Senior Figures:


Madeleine K. Albright served as the 64th Secretary of State of the United States, from 1997 to 2001. She is currently Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, Chair of Albright Stonebridge Group and Chair of Albright Capital Management. Dr. Albright has served in various posts in the Clinton and Carter administrations including as U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations from 1993 to 1997. Dr. Albright is deeply involved in international affairs, serving as chair of both the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs and the Pew Global Attitudes Project and as president of the Truman Scholarship Foundation. She sits on the board of the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Policy Board, the Aspen Institute, and the Center for American Progress. Dr. Albright is also a bestselling author and recipient of the United States’ highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


José Manual Barroso served as Prime Minister of Portugal from 2002 to 2004 and President of the European Commission from 20014-2014. Mr. Barroso has a long and distinguished career in academia and politics. He is currently the Frederick H. Schultz Class of 1951 Visiting Professor of International Economic Policy at Princeton University and policy fellow at the Lichtenstein Institute of Self-Determination. He has worked at various universities including as head of the Department of International Relations of Lusíada University in Lisbon. In 1999, he was named president of Portugal’s Social Democratic Party (PSD) and he served as vice-president of the European People’s Party. He served as State Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Prime Minister in 2002. In 2004 he was elected by the European Parliament to the post of president of the European Commission and reelected in 2009. He holds various honors and has published numerous academic works.


Carl Bildt served as Sweden’s Foreign Minister from 2006 to 2014, and was Prime Minister from 1991 to 1994, when he negotiated Sweden’s EU accession. He is chair of the Global Commission on Internet Governance and a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Europe. Mr. Bildt has a distinguished career in international diplomacy, as EU Special Envoy to the former Yugoslavia, High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, United Nations Special Envoy to the Balkans and co-chairman of the Dayton Peace Conference. He has served as adviser to the European Space Agency and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. Previously he sat on the boards of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the Centre for European Reform, the European Policy Centre, the RAND Corporation, and the Aspen Institute. Currently, he serves on the board of Crisis Group and the Center for European Policy Analysis’ advisory board.


Gordon Brown is former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom serving from 2007 to 2010. He is currently the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education and former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Chair of the Global Strategic Infrastructure Initiative of the World Economic Forum, and Distinguished Global Leader in Residence of New York University. He has recently completed a research project on globalisation and education at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and co-chairs a High Level Panel on Global Education with Graça Machel. Before his premiership, he was the longest-serving Chancellor of the Exchequer in modern history, serving from 1997 to 2007. He was the Labour MP for for Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath, formerly Dumferline East, from 1983 to 2015 and is the author of several books and holds a PhD in History from the University of Edinburgh.


Joaquim Chissano served as President of Mozambique from 1986 to 2004. He is Chairperson of the Joaquim Chissano Foundation and the Africa Forum of Former African Heads of State and Government. He is a founding member of the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) and was prime minister of the transitional government to independence. Following independence, he was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs and elected to the Presidency in 1986. In 1994, he won the first multiparty elections in Mozambique’s history, and was re-elected in 1999. He voluntarily decided not to stand in the 2004 presidential elections. He has served as Chairperson of the Southern African Development Community and Chairperson of the African Union and appointed Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for the 2005 Summit to Review the Implementation of the Millennium Declaration and Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General to Guinea-Bissau, Democratic Republic of Congo, and LRA affected areas in Uganda. Currently, he is a member of the Club of Madrid, The Hunger Project, International Crisis Group, Peace Parks Foundation, Goodwill Ambassador for CPLP (Portuguese Spoken Countries Community) and Global Partnership Initiative Youth Ambassador. He has received awards from many countries and has received several prizes, including the inaugural Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership in 2007.


Joe Clark was the 16th Prime Minister of Canada serving from 19179 to 1980. He served as Secretary of State of External Affairs of Canada from 1984 to 1991. He is currently Vice-Chairman of the Global Leadership Foundation and serves on the advisory board of the Institute for the Study of International Development at McGill University, where he was the first Professor of Practice for Private-Public Sector Partnerships in the Centre for Developing-Area Studies. He has served as Minister of Constitutional Affairs, Acting Minister of both National Defence and Justice, Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, National Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, and been elected eight times to the House of Commons of Canada. From 1993 to 1996 he served as Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations for Cyprus and has led or co-led Election Observation teams in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Lebanon and Pakistan. Mr. Clark sits on the boards of various Canadian and international companies, and not-for-profit organizations, is a published author, and has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors.


Ruth Dreifuss served as President of the Swiss Confederation in 1999, the first woman to hold that office. She has worked successively as a teaching assistant, journalist, scientific collaborator in the field of development cooperation and humanitarian aid at the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, and Secretary of the Swiss Trade Union Federation. In 1993 she was elected Federal Councillor and was head of the Federal Department of Home Affairs in Switzerland from 1993 to 2002 where she was responsible for public health, social insurance, scientific research, higher education, gender equality, environment, and culture. Following retirement from Swiss government she served as been chancellor of the University for Peace in Costa Rica and contributed to the reform of the University of Geneva. She is currently a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy and the International Commission against the Death Penalty.


Ricardo Lagos is the former President of Chile, he served from 2000 to 2006.  He is the founder and President of the Fundación Democracia y Desarrollo (Foundation for Democracy and Development) and chair emeritus of the Inter-American Dialogue. Mr. Lagos has a distinguished career in academia and politics. He was a professor and later Director of the University of Chile’s Institute of Law. During the 1980s he was deeply involved in the drive towards a democratic Chile, as leader of the Alianza Demócrata and the Comité Independiente para Elecciones Libres and founder of the Partido por la Democracia. Following the end of the Pinochet regime, Mr. Lagos served as Minister for Education and for Public Works, and was then elected to the Presidency in 2000.  He served as UN special envoy for climate change from 2007 to 2010 and is the former president of the Madrid Club. From 2007 to 2012 he taught at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University, where until 2015 he was Professor at Large. Mr. Lagos is the recipient of numerous awards and an established academic author.


Olusegun Obasanjo served as President of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007. Currently he serves on the board of the Africa Progress Panel. As President of Nigeria he oversaw his country’s first democratic handover of power and administrative reforms that accelerated economic growth. Mr. Obasanjo has played a pivotal role in the regeneration and repositioning of the African Union, including helping to establish the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)  and the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM). He has consistently supported the deepening and widening of regional cooperation through the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Co-prosperity Alliance Zone incorporating Benin, Ghana, Nigeria and Togo. Mr. Obasanjo has also been involved in international mediation efforts in Angola, Burundi, Namibia, Mozambique and South Africa. In 2008, the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, appointed Mr. Obasanjo as his Special Envoy to the Great Lakes region, where he has played an integral part in mediation efforts in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. He has previously served as chairman of the Group of 77, chairman of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, and chairman of the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee.


Surin Pitsuwan is the former Foreign Minister of Thailand and Secretary General of ASEAN from 2008 to 2012. Previously, he served as Chair of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and the Chair of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in 1999-2000. Dr. Surin served on the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC), charged with bringing peace and security back to Thailand’s deep South. He also served as MP in the National Legislative Assembly. He is currently on the Advisory Board of the UN Human Security Trust Fund; the Advisory Board of the International Crisis Group (ICG); a member of the International Advisory Board of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York; an International Academic Advisor of the Centre for Islamic Studies, Oxford University; and an advisor to the Leaders Project. Between 2002-2004, Dr. Surin was also a member of the “Wise Men Group” under the auspices of the Henri Dunant Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HDC) in Geneva, advising the peace negotiations between the Acehnese Independence Movement (GAM) and the Government of the Republic of Indonesia.

jose horta

José Ramos-Horta served as President of Timor L’Este between 2007 and 2012. Previously, he served as Prime Minister and Minister of Defence from 2006 to 2007 and as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation from 2002 to 2006. With Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo he is the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize “for their work toward a just and peaceful solution to the conflict in East Timor.” A co-founder of the Revolutionary Front for the Independence of Timor-Leste, between 1975 and 1999 he was Minister for Foreign Affairs and Information. In 1990 he settled in Sydney, Australia, and founded the Diplomacy Training Program in the University of New South Wales. In 1999 he returned to East Timor to contribute to the negotiations that led to Timorese independence.  As a Cabinet Member of the United Nations Transition Administration for East Timor from 2000 to 2002, Ramos-Horta helped to bring about peaceful elections for the country.  After his service in office, from 2012 to 2014, he acted as Special Representative to the UN Secretary General to and in 2014 he was asked by the Secretary General to head a High Level Independent Panel on the UN Peacekeeping system.


Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was the sixth President of Indonesia, serving two terms from 2004 to 2014. Mr. Yudhoyono is presently chairman of Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) and, as head of Partai Demokrat, remains active in the politics of Indonesia. A graduate of the Military Academy he achieved the rank of four star general, including a included a tour as chief of the United Nations Military Observer in Bosnia and Herzegovina. After retiring early from the military service in 1999, he was appointed as Minister of Mining and Energy, then serving as Coordinating Minister for Political, Social, and Security Affairs from 2000 to 2004. In 2012, President Yudhoyono was appointed by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as Co-Chair of the High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the post-2015 Development Agenda. President Yudhoyono is very active on global diplomacy on climate change. In 2007, Indonesia successfully hosted the Conference of Parties (COP) 13 and in 2008 he created the National Council on Climate. He is a prolific author and international speaker.


Ernesto Zedillo served as President of Mexico from 1994 to 2000. He currently serves as the Chairman of the Board of the Natural Resource Governance Institute, the 21st Century Advisory Council of the Berggruen Institute on Governance, and Co-Chair of the Inter-American Dialogue. He serves on the Global Commission on Drug Policy and is a member of The Elders. His is also the Frederick Iseman ’74 Director of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, Professor in the Field of International Economics and Politics, Professor of International and Area Studies, and Professor Adjunct of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University. Before becoming president he held various offices in the government of Mexico, including Secretary of Education. He has served on numerous international panels and commissions including as Vice Chair of the Global Commission on Elections, Democracy and Security, Chair of the Global Development Network, the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament, co-chair of the Partnership of the Americas Commission, and co-chair of the Commission on Drugs and Democracy. He advises and serves on the boards of various organizations, is an accomplished author, and holds a number of honorary degrees and honors.


Heidemarie Wieczorek Zeul served as Germany’s Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development from 1998 to 2009. She was a member of the national parliament, the German Bundestag, from 1987 until 2013. From 2009 to 2013, she served on the Committee on Foreign Affairs and as the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SDP) Spokesperson for the Subcommittee on the United Nations, International Organizations and Globalization and the Spokesperson for Africa. Prior to her post as Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Ms. Wieczorek-Zeul was a member of the European Parliament from 1979 to 1987, where she was on the Committee on External Relations, focusing on foreign trade and European development policy. She also worked extensively with the SDP, rising to be Deputy Federal Chairwoman from 1993 to 2005. Ms. Wieczorek-Zeul began her career as a teacher at the Friedrich Ebert School and subsequently served as Chairwoman of the European Coordination Bureau of International Youth Organizations from 1977 to 1979. She holds degrees in English and History from Frankfurt University.

carlos m

Carlos Mesa was the President of Bolivia, serving from 2003-2005. Mr. Mesa was founder and director of Cinemateca Boliviana in 1976 and since 1979 has been a press, radio and television journalist. He served as deputy director of the newspaper Ultima Hora and director of three TV channels: America TV, Telesistema Boliviano and ATB. He is President of the Fundación Comunidad, which works to strengthen democratic institutions and human rights. He is also the author of sixteen books on topics ranging from Bolivian history to Latin American cinema. He is a member of the Bolivian Academy of History and the Bolivian Society of History.


Hassan Wirajuda served as Foreign Minister of Indonesia from 2001 to 2009. He currently sits on the council of presidential advisors of the Republic of Indonesia. He serves on the International Advisory Panel of Nalanda University, the Asia Pacific Leadership Network for Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, the Trilateral Commission Asia Pacific Group, the Aspen Ministers Forum, and is a founding member of the Asian Peace and Reconciliation Council. He was also a member of the High Level Informal Advisory Panel of the President of the 67th UN General Assembly. Previously he held various important government posts including Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other international organizations in Geneva. Dr. Wirajuda recently co-founded The Indonesia School of Government and Public Policy and is editor-in chief of Strategic Review. During his time in office he was responsible for the establishment of the Indonesian Commission of Human Rights, initiated the establishment of the Bali Democratic Forum and the Institute for Peace and Democracy, facilitated the peace talks between Moro Liberation Front and the government, and conducted the dialogue for a peace agreement between Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement. Dr. Wirajuda has received high honors from Indonesia and the Philippines for his service.