The Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL) was established in 1997, as Asia’s first regional network of civil society organizations focused on elections and election monitoring. It strives to promote and support democratization at national and regional levels in Asia. Since it was founded, it has served towards strengthening the democratization of countries such as Sri Lanka, Nepal, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, East Timor and Indonesia.
ANFREL is supported by a number of national organizations from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Timor Leste and Thailand.
From 1997 onwards until today, ANFREL, has also been active in contributing its efforts to capacity building of member and non-member organizations on issues related to election observation, voter/civic education, electoral reform and public awareness for good democratic governance.
Research activities on electoral reform, democracy and good governance have been conducted jointly with civil society organizations in several countries.
ANFREL has been active in organizing trainings and comparative study seminars of election laws in Asia. In November 1998 for instance, a seminar-workshop on the election laws in Indonesia was held, participated by election experts from selected Asian countries. The critique and the recommendations of the seminar-workshop were submitted to the Indonesia authorities for consideration in finalizing the election law.
Apart from direct election observation programs, in ANFREL’s entire election observation mission to date, training (directly or indirectly to local organizations) has always been part of the primary objective of its mission. ANFREL believes that capacity building is one of the most important elements in democratization efforts. ANFREL hopes that these efforts will get continuous support from the international community for greater democratization efforts in Asia. The Electoral Process is one of the basic needs for the citizens of a country to enjoy their freedom and be able to exercise their political rights in choosing representatives to organize and manage the country’s democratic political system. Because the relations between politics, economics and social justice are very close, elections thus play a major role in determining the future direction of a country.
ANFREL believes that the electoral system of a country must be co-ordinate and monitored carefully to assure the sovereignty of the processes, which shoulders its autonomous results.