Elections: observation missions


Under the aegis of the OSCE, Belgium participates in election observation missions organised by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, hereinafter referred to as the OSCE/ODIHR, by sending short-term observers. The OSCE/ODIHR conducts election observations in OSCE-participating States to assess the extent to which elections respect fundamental freedoms and are characterised by equality, universality, political pluralism, trust, transparency and accountability. These election observation missions consist of:

  • a core team of electoral experts
  • long-term observers deployed for a period of six weeks
  • short-term observers deployed for around ten days.

As part of a multilateral framework, election observation missions are deployed on the basis of the following principles:

  • election observation is respectful of national sovereignty and is conducted exclusively at the invitation of the country being observed;
  • election observation is not electoral technical assistance in the sense that the observer does not intervene in the election process;
  • the recommendations contained in the document adopted by the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe in Copenhagen in 1990 (https://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/14304?download=true) constitute the fundamental criteria for election observation.

Election observation missions are unpaid (but cover expenses) incidental and ad hoc missions for people who sometimes come from highly diverse backgrounds and often have an interest in the issue, in the context of their professional activities.

Procedure for submitting candidacies

The FPS Foreign Affairs (FPS FA) is responsible for selecting candidates on the basis of their qualifications and objective motivations. The procedure for validly submitting candidacies for such missions is as follows:

  • Candidates must be registered in our database via the  standard form (DOC, 45.5 KB). Being registered in this database does not imply that you are a candidate for a given mission; it is only a mandatory prerequisite for any candidacy. Once this has been done, it does not have to be repeated. However, it is still possible at any time if the candidate wishes to make any changes to update their CV.
  • Candidates must complete an e-learning course accessible via: https://electionexpert.odihr.pl/Home/HomeIndex. The e-learning course is made up of several modules, it can be interrupted, saved and resumed at any time. The certificate issued upon completion of the e-learning must be sent to: observers.osce@diplobel.fed.be.
  • Candidates interested in a given mission are invited to explicitly submit their candidacy by sending an e-mail to observers.osce@diplobel.fed.be. Candidacies must be received by us no later than six weeks prior to the election day for which the candidate is applying.
  • In making its selection, the FPS FA will not be able to take into account candidates who have not completed this procedure in time.
  • The selection procedure applied by the FPS FA, based on the candidates who have expressed their interest, incorporates the following criteria:
    • Availability of the budget of the FPS FA department
    • The skills and expertise of the candidates (e.g. previous experience in the region and/or in the country, previous electoral experience including training in the field of electoral observation, the language skills of the candidate, experience working in crisis and highly volatile security environments, etc.).
    • Linguistic balance (FR/NL)
    • Gender balance
    • The balance between internal and external candidates in the FPS FA
  • Candidates can find the calendar for observation missions on the OSCE website.
  • It is necessary to repeat this procedure every time the candidate wishes to apply for a new mission.