The independence of EMBs, addressed in paragraph 20 of the General Comment to article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, remains a thorny issue in the Arab region. The notion of independence applies to many aspects of EMBs and goes beyond mere structural independence from government. To this end, the Arab EMBs Organization has requested the support of International IDEA and the UN Development Programme’s Arab States Regional Electoral Assistance Project to develop a number of criteria to assess EMBs’ independence. A group representing the organizations was formed and began to analyse the different models of EMBs in each country to identify common and specific aspects.
A long process of work and exchange meetings since 2018 resulted in an approved document outlining the criteria for EMBs’ independence grouped into four essential elements—the legal framework, methods of selecting and appointing commissioners, EMBs’ responsibilities, and control and accountability conditions. The document was reviewed by the previous president, current president and a member of the Executive Board of the Arab EMBs.
International IDEA’s reference documents formed an essential basis for this work in addition to the information gathered from the participating EMBs—from Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Mauritania, Palestine and Tunisia.
Feature photo: International IDEA held a meeting in its Tunis office between representatives from Arab EMBs and the UNDP-Arab States Regional Electoral Assistance Project to identify a working methodology.