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The More the Merrier? The Effects of Having Multiple International Election Monitoring Organizations

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 February 2009

Judith Kelley
Duke University. E-mail:


As the pressure to invite international election monitors rose at the end of the Cold War, states refused to grant the United Nations a dominant role. Thus, today multiple intergovernmental, regional, and international non-governmental organizations often monitor the same elections with equal authority. This article examines the costs and benefits of this complex regime to highlight some possible broader implications of regime complexity. It argues that the availability of many different organizations facilitates action that might otherwise have been blocked for political reasons. Furthermore, when different international election monitoring agencies agree, their consensus can bolster their individual legitimacy as well as the legitimacy of the international norms they stress, and thus magnify their influence on domestic politics. Unfortunately the election monitoring example also suggests that complex regimes can engender damaging inter-organizational politics and that the different biases, capabilities, and standards of organizations sometime can lead organizations to outright contradict each other or work at cross-purposes.

Copyright © American Political Science Association 2009

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