Encouraging a Fair Vote

The Role of the International Community in Helping to Strengthen Election Commissions

March 13-14, 2008 | Ritz-Carlton Hotel, 1228 Sherbrooke Ouest

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With images of the violence following the recent elections in Kenya still lingering in the media, The Centre for Developing-Area Studies will host a conference titled: Encouraging a Fair Vote: The Role of the International Community in Helping to Strengthen Election Commissions, March 13 and 14 in Montreal, QC.

The conference will bring together leading authorities with extensive experience in electoral promotion in order to identify practical actions and the steps which might lead to their implementation to help insure the integrity of national electoral processes.

Dr. Philip Oxhorn, the director of the centre, says that one intended outcome is to offer some specific recommendations about the role of the international community in helping strengthen election commissions to well known international bodies working in this area so that they might actually be implemented.

The keynote address will be given by Edward Joseph, a Visiting Fellow at the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University. The address will elaborate on Mr. Joseph’s Op Ed piece in the New York Times, Observe Early and Often (January 7, 2008). It will be followed the next day with a series of public discussions relating to the role of the international community in working with electoral commissions.

The conference is being convened by the Right Honorable Joe Clark, who will also be in attendance. On October 2, 2007 McGill University announced the appointment of the Rt. Hon. Joe Clark as a Professor of Practice for Public-Private Sector Partnerships at the McGill Centre for Developing-Area Studies (CDAS).

Thursday, March 13


5:00  Keynote Address and Reception


Edward Joseph (USA) is a frequently consulted policy advocate, writer and commentator on foreign policy. He has had articles published on major issues in Foreign Affairs, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and The Washington Post.

Open to the public

Friday, March 14


Panel 1  9:00-10:30  Achieving Fair Elections: A View from the "Outside Looking In"


Horacio Boneo (Argentina) has been involved in electoral assistance and observation in more than 40 countries in Latin America, Caribbean, Asia, and Africa. Since 2000, Boneo has served as a consultant on issues of democratic governance and elections for the United Nations, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Swedish International Development Agency, the National Democratic Institute, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems.

Edward McMahon (USA) holds a joint appointment as Research Associate Professor of Community Development and Applied Economics, and Political Science at the University of Vermont. McMahon also serves as a Senior Research Associate at Freedom House, where he assesses democratic development in Africa for Freedom House’s Annual Survey of Political Rights and Civil Liberties.

Ron Gould (Canada) is the Former Assistant Chief Electoral Office of Elections Canada and has been involved with more than 100 election observation missions. In 2007 he was appointed by the Electoral Commission of Scotland to head up a wide-ranging review of the Scottish elections.

Moderator: Professor Philip Oxhorn, Director, CDAS

Panel 2  11-12:30  Achieving Fair Elections: Learning from Success


Eunice Akweley Roberts (Ghana) is a member of the Electoral Commission of Ghana where she works on the compilation of voters registers; aids in the demarcation of electoral boundaries for both national and local government elections; conducts supervision of all public elections and referenda and educates the public on the electoral process and its purpose

Jesus Cantú (Mexico) , is with the Graduate School of Public Administration and Public Policy, Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey. Prof. Jesus Cantú is Director of the Research Chair of Institutions and Practices of Contemporary Democracies

Somadoda Fikeni (South Africa) currently holds the position of Chief Operations Officer for the National Heritage Council of South Africa and is an electoral expert of the country

Rev. Bongani Finca (South Africa) serves as the Provincial Electoral Officer of the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa in the Province of the Eastern Cape.

Moderator: Prof. Aristide Nononsi, Associate Director, CDAS