|Washington meeting breaks new ground on campaign finance
News from the Field, 9 March 2009
The International Foundation for Electoral Systems, or IFES, hosted a groundbreaking two-day conference together with the Carter Center on international campaign finance observation.
The event, held on 2 February 2009 as part of the UNDEF-supported IFES project on Global Standards for Political Finance, was attended by more than 20 top scholars and practitioners in the field. They discussed global standards of campaign finance and techniques and methodologies to monitor money in politics, concluding with a visit to the United States Federal Elections Commission. “This meeting showed us all that organizations that are dealing with electoral observation and assistance need to coordinate their efforts to monitor political finance,"said Marcin Walecki, Ph.D., senior advisor for political finance and public ethics at IFES. "IFES and the Carter Center were happy to share their expertise with partner organizations. We are looking forward to new research projects such as producing a manual for international observers and training programs that can be incorporated into the BRIDGE (Building Resources in Democracy and Governance) training program. The fact that the meeting happened during the week of Obama's inauguration has certainly helped. We all left with the feeling that 'Yes we can!'
This was the first time such a prominent group of experts joined forces to create a practical application to improve campaign finance monitoring across the world. They agreed that campaign finance should be a core component of international election observation. The conference was composed of panels headed by experts in various political finance topics. Among the areas examined were how to devise more effective campaign monitoring efforts, the challenges that arise in the effort to establish global standards in political finance, and the role of international and domestic NGOs in the observation of campaign finance.
Among the participants were: David Carroll, the Carter Center; Steven Griner, Organization of American States; Patrick Merloe, National Democratic Institute; Richard Chambers, IFES Chief of Party in Lebanon; Mark Stevens, Commonwealth Secretariat; Denis Kadima, Electoral Institute of South Africa; and Gerald Mitchell, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.