International election monitoring missions play an important role in the promotion of democracy and human rights. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade maintains a roster of observers for election monitoring missions. We aim to ensure that, when requested, Ireland is represented at an appropriate level in international observation missions for both elections and constitutional referendums. Irish observers participate primarily in missions organised by the European Union and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. However, they have also been involved in missions organised by the Council of Europe, the United Nations and the Carter Centre. When a request for electoral observation is received, the Department seeks expressions of interest from all observers on the election roster. A list of suitably qualified observers is drawn up, taking into account the specific criteria for the mission, including language proficiency. Gender balance and length of time since serving on a mission are also key factors in the selection process. Following completion of the internal selection process, a draft list of nominees is submitted for Ministerial approval.
In the case of European Union election observation missions, the final selection of observers from the list of approved nominees submitted by the Department rests with the European Commission. In the case of OSCE election observation missions, all the observers nominated by the Department are usually selected.
Last year, I asked that the Department carry out a review of the election observation roster. Following a call for applications and a subsequent appraisal process against published criteria, 200 individuals with a strong mix of skills and experience have now been selected to serve on a new roster, which will come into effect on 15 May 2013. I am satisfied that the recruitment and selection process has been carried out in a fair and transparent manner.
I am confident that the establishment of this new roster will ensure that Ireland can consistently nominate the best qualified people for election monitoring missions. At this point, I do not envisage changes to the procedure by which members of the new roster will be nominated for missions.
The costs to the Department of Foreign Affairs of each observation mission relate exclusively to the costs of sending the individuals selected for the mission. In the case of EU missions, all costs are covered by the European Commission with the exception of a pre-departure grant of €600, which observers who participate in missions are entitled to in every twelve month period. For OSCE missions, the costs of Irish observers, over and above the pre-departure grant are fully met by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
A list in tabular form of persons sent on election observation missions between 2007 and to date in 2013 is set out as follows. In the time available, it is not possible to provide a detailed breakdown of costs per mission for the years 2007, 2008 and 2009. For these years, the total annual cost of all election observation missions is provided. From 2010 onwards, the cost of each individual participating in missions is provided.
The table is available as attachment Q56.docx at the top of the web page.