To be useful to the mission and credible when making his/her assessment, the electoral observer must have both methodology and independence. Lose one of this elements and you will put in danger your team, your colleagues and the entire mission. Putting focus on the methodology, I will give you elements on how to get trained as an election observer. I will not pretend to be exhaustive here, so do feel free to contact me if you know of a training that could be worth mentioning.
As it is the case for most trainings you will attend, none of them will guarantee you a spot in an observation mission. However, having done at least one will give you more chances to be recruited as an observer. My aim here is to present the main actors in the field of training for STO and LTO hopefuls. I voluntarily omitted trainings that are region specific, like the one given by European Center for Electoral Support for Catalonians (informations can be found here: http://www.diplocat.cat/en/activities/training/election-observation-training) or strictly online programs that you can easily find with an internet search.
Open to all nationalities:
European Inter University Center for Human Rights and Democratization (EIUC) – Venice
I want at this stage disclose my bias towards this specific training as I am one of the trainers. This one week training organized in Venice under the auspices of the European Inter University Center for Human Rights and Democratization. This university hosts the oldest Master’s programme supported by the European Union, the European Master’s Programme in Human Rights and Democratisation (http://www.eiuc.org/education/ema.html).
Its objective is to train future Short Term and Long Term Observers in a very practical and down to earth way. The good mix between theoretical and practical teachings makes it, in my view, a very useful training. Trainers are both academics and experienced field professionals, most trainers have worked for the biggest actors in the electoral field (EU, OSCE, Carter Center, IFES, NDI, etc) and their responsibilities ranged from STO, LTO to Core Team positions and Head of Mission.
At the end of the training, you will know about the theory of international observation, international standards and good practices, the typical organization of a mission, the main differences in methodologies, the duties and responsibilities of STOs and LTOs, the reporting system, information gathering and analysis, etc. You will also practice simulations of an election day and different electoral scenarios. I strongly recommend that you attend both session as they complement each other and give you a well rounded training that will provide you with essential tools to be operational immediately in any election observation mission, regardless of the organization you will work for. All participants attending the training receive a certificate of participation upon completion of the course.
This training will fit people who want a time efficient training on the basics of international observation and prefer an on-site training. It costs around 450 Euros for the entire week, a reduce fee is applied if you register for only half the program. Accommodation can be provided for a fixed cost and an early bird discount is available. The exact costs can be found here: http://www.eiuc.org/education/training-for-international-electoral-observers/fees.html.
You can apply directly on the EIUC website.
International Election Observation & Electoral Assistance Course – University of the basque country
I do not participate in this training, nor have I followed it. As for the EIUC, the training team is a mix of academic teachers and field professionals.
The course offers ETCS credits for interested students. It is a one year course that requires a greater commitment and is held entirely online with telesales and e-learning courses. As for the previous example, the training is aimed at university graduates with no experience in election observation.
Their website best describes the objective and teaching staff: “Students will use the Election Cycle perspective and will study a set of concrete topics, relevant to democratization processes, both on election observation and electoral assistance practice. Participants will focus on the duties of observers, the structure and reporting mechanisms of EOMs and how to enhance observers’ performance once deployed in the field by studying both the specific requirements of Core Team members from observers as well as the areas of expertise of each Core Team position. The teaching staff is a selection of experienced Core Team observers, observer training instructors (e.g. EODS program), university scholars and experts working for international agencies and organizations related to the field such as The Carter Center, Electoral Reform International Services (ERIS), International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), National Democratic Institute (NDI), the Organization of American States (OEA) or the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIRH).”
This training is aimed at students with the will to commit more time to their training and are comfortable with distance learning/ internet based program. The program cost around 1,500 Euros, the exact fee can be found here: http://electionobservation.org.
You can apply directly on their website (http://www.electionobservation.org/admission).
Programs with nationality or language restrictions:
Election Observation and Democratic Support (EODS) – Project run by a consortium supported by the European Union (EU)
This training is open only to EU nationals (http://www.eods.eu/how-to-apply) and focusses on the methodology applied by European Union missions. The training team is made exclusively of field professionals, without backing from university scholars. The quality of the teaching is recognized by recruiters across the field. Potential observers should not hesitate to apply. The training is free but the selection is very competitive. Balance of gender and nationalities are part of the selection criteria, which favors women and the latest countries to join the EU. The EU does not give any priority to candidates who followed this training rather than any other one. This program has a yearly calendar of activities, training can be delivered in languages other than english and focus on Core Team positions with some trainings for prospective LTOs and STOs.
As previously mentioned, this program is free and some logistical support can be provided. To apply you must register on the EU Roster for International Observers (eeas.europa.eu/eueom/become-an-observer/election-roster/index_en.htm) and apply directly on the EODS website. The complete application procedure can be found here: http://www.eods.eu/how-to-apply
University Diploma of Election Administrator – Paris Sorbonne University
This university degree is open only to french speakers, as all lectures are dispensed in french. Candidates must have a graduate degree or relevant experience. Admission requires a positive evaluation of your diploma or experience and a successful interview. Lectures are organized from January to June, in Paris, three to four evenings a week. It has been designed for working professionals living in Paris. Teachers are mainly academics, only one field professional with international experience is listed in their teaching staff, with half of french practitioners of elections. The program is centered in french elections with some glimpse of international academic knowledge. The total cost of the program is around 1.500 Euros and can be found here: http://formation-continue.univ-paris1.fr/?id=518727
I am not aware of trainings given in languages other than french or english. If anyone wishes to contribute to the list or share constructive remarks, I can be reached here: firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep in mind that I am not hiring, nor participating in the recruitment of STOS and LTOs for any of the organizations mentioned. I do not participate in the selection of any of the trainings mentioned, so don’t send me your CV, I will not be in a position to assist.