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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Press Release: Bangkok Declaration, 11 December 2012


BANGKOK, THAILAND 11 December 2012 – Asian electoral management bodies and civil
society organizations are poised today to conclude their discussion of the Bangkok
Declaration on Free and Fair Elections at the end of their first-ever gathering to promote
democratic, transparent elections on the world's most populous continent.

The Asian Electoral Stakeholder Forum convened a two-day conference with
participants from 11 Asian electoral management bodies and 30 Asian civil society
organizations (representing 17 countries) devoted to advancing the cause of free and
free elections. The Forum’s 2-day meeting is a significant milestone in a process begun by
the Asian Network for Free Elections in January of 2012 and aided by many other
organizations along the way. Guests from the Libyan, Australian and Mexican electoral
management bodies, as well as observers from foreign embassies in Bangkok and from
governmental and non-governmental bodies based in Europe and the Americas, were
also on-hand to witness the event.

“The delegates came to Bangkok to discuss electoral challenges that affect the
ability to conduct free and fair elections throughout the continent and to adopt the
Bangkok Declaration as a beacon lighting the way to improved elections throughout
Asia,” explained ANFREL Chairman Damaso Magbual. A year in the drafting stage, the
Bangkok Declaration is the product of extensive discussion and input from both electoral
management bodies and civil society groups.

As noted in the preamble to the Declaration, "The holding of periodic, free, and
fair elections based on secret ballots and universal suffrage is the true expression of the
sovereignty of the people. Free and fair elections are a precondition of democracy and
they promote social, political and economic development." The Declaration also
emphasizes that the "principles for ensuring free and fair elections are universal."

The immediate objective of the Bangkok Declaration is to "identify the most
significant and widespread barriers to free and fair elections in Asia and strengthen the
resolve of the Asian people to address them by involving all relevant national, regional
and international stakeholders." It seeks to do this by (1) providing a sense of ownership
to Asian peoples and election management bodies through the creation of a document
that recognizes the sensitivities of Asian culture, religion and customary practices; (2)
focusing on the broad universality of international principles on specific issues applicable
to Asia; and (3) encouraging the participation of women and minorities as voters and

The Bangkok Declaration addresses the many diverse issues involved in the
election process including EMB independence, the universal franchise, voter education,
training of election officials, voter registration and accuracy of voter lists, campaign
finance, unfair and dishonest campaign practices, election observation, safeguarding
and counting votes and resolution of electoral disputes.

Following wide-ranging discussions among the delegates, the Asian Electoral
Stakeholder Forum concluded today at the United Nations Convention Centre in
Bangkok to finalize the Bangkok Declaration and resolve to support its broad adoption
throughout Asia. The Asian Electoral Stakeholder Forum will follow up this, its inaugural
meeting, by revisiting the Bangkok Declaration with a view to building even broader
acceptance, consensus, and implementation across Asia.

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For further information, please contact Mrs. Orawan Yafa at or Tel:087 701 6233

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