Richard Chambers lectures on: Promoting a Culture for Free and Fair Elections/ An International Perspective on Electoral Reform in Lebanon
On Thursday the 24th of January 2008, as part of the Cultural Hour organized by Haigazian University, Mr. Richard Chambers, Country Director of International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) in Lebanon, delivered a lecture on "Promoting a Culture for Free and Fair Elections", tackling the issue of the Electoral Reform in Lebanon from an International Perspective.
In her opening speech, Dr. Arda Ekmekji, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, introduced the IFES, an International Foundation for Election Systems founded in 1987 as an international, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, dedicated to administering elections.
In the first part of his lecture, guest speaker Richard Chambers highlighted on the international benchmarks, without which no election can earn the name of fair and free.
These criteria are embedded in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant of Civil Rights, which proclaim the right of the people to participate in the government, the equal right of women and /or the disabled to vote, and that the will of the people should be the basis of authority in government.
Chambers also addressed the issue of periodic elections, in terms of the interval of time between elections, as well as the notion of genuine elections in terms of adherence to the principles of legality, impartiality, transparency, accountability, and plurality.
Talking about the case of Lebanon in the second part of his lecture, Chambers acknowledged that the country generally abides by the different covenants of the United Nations, the Arab League, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant of Civil Rights. However, Chambers criticized the genuine aspect of the elections: "the election law is flawed, with many omissions, holds no public confidence, does not guarantee transparency, openness or accountability, does not insure campaign fairness and regulations, and does not secure secrecy of balloting", Chambers said.
Chambers concluded his lecture by proposing some reform measures in the Lebanese electoral system. "The new electoral system should achieve confessional and regional representation, and establish a real relationship between the electorate and the representatives", Chambers said.
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