Bearing in mind the objectives and the political nature of the Parliamentary Assembly’s observation missions as well as the problems deriving from the past co-operation arrangements with other international institutions, the following Guidelines were adopted by the Bureau of the Assembly on 24 May 2004 and updated by the Bureau on 7 October 2005, 16 November 2006, 23 May 2007, 8 October 2010, 27 January 2012, 29 June 2012, 17 December 2012, 6 March 2014 and 5 March 2015.

A. Elections to be observed

1. For the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the observation of elections plays an important role in the assessment of the overall political situation of the country in question. In practical terms this entails the systematic observation of elections in any state whose parliament has requested or enjoys special guest status, partner for democracy status, which has applied for membership, or is subject to the monitoring procedure.
2. Observation of parliamentary and presidential elections as well as of referenda in an applicant State or a State under the monitoring procedure should be an inalienable right of the Assembly. A State’s lack of cooperation with the Assembly, its refusal to accept an election observation mission from the Assembly should give rise to a debate at the part-session or Standing Committee meeting following the elections in question. It may result in sanctions, such as a freezing of the application procedure or the challenge of the credentials of the national delegation concerned on the basis of Rule 8.2.b.(lack of cooperation under the Assembly’s monitoring procedure).
3. The Bureau may also decide to observe parliamentary and/or presidential elections, as well as referenda, in a State that is subject to the post-monitoring dialogue.
4. The observation of regional and local elections is the responsibility of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe (the Congress). If the Assembly receives an invitation to observe such elections and the Bureau decides to observe them, the Assembly ad hoc committee shall cooperate with the election observation mission the Congress may deploy. A report on these elections by the Congress, sent to the President, should be referred, on a Bureau’s proposal, to the Monitoring Committee.
5. The Bureau of the Assembly may decide to observe elections in other States when exceptional circumstances have been brought to its attention.

B. Elections as a process

6. In conducting election observations,…

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