May 19, 2011, 1:47 p.m.
While electoral complaints adjudication does not often garner as much attention as the casting of ballots, it is a crucial part of the elections process. After all, the legitimacy of an election, and by extension public confidence in democratic institutions, depends in part on the way countries resolve election disputes and complaints. One of the ongoing challenges for emerging and established democracies is to ensure that valid disputes or complaints are resolved in a timely, fair and effective manner.
To assist international actors in the development of effective complaint adjudication systems, IFES has identified seven principles that are crucial components to any complaints adjudication process. These standards, which stem from the widely recognized fundamental right to participate in government and can be applied to any electoral system, are outlined in the new IFES publication Guidelines to Understanding, Adjudicating, and Resolving Disputes in Elections (GUARDE).
GUARDE is a useful resource for readers in a variety of fields.
For lawyers and legal scholars, GUARDE offers well-researched legal analysis of the key international standards for dealing with election complaints in a timely, effective, and transparent manner.
For members of the media, GUARDE's seven principles and checklists serve as a guide to better understanding complaints adjudications procedures and identifying issues and problems in a country's handling of the process.
For election administrators, GUARDE provides clear justification for implementing an effective complaints adjudication process and offers insight into how administrators can build and manage a well-organized, transparent and internationally accepted complaint adjudication system.
For designers of complaints adjudication systems and election assistance providers, GUARDE provides a tangible framework for establishing an effective system as well as a number of examples of how disputes and complaints have been managed around the world.
For civil society organizations focused on advocacy or training practices, GUARDE devotes two chapters to designing and implementing training programs for election management bodies, political parties, election arbiters, and voters.
For readers with a general interest in elections and comparative legal systems, GUARDE offers insight into an important but lesser-known part of the election process, with accessible case studies and examples of the successes and failures of complaints adjudication systems.