Asian Electoral Resource Center (AERC)
The universal human right of suffrage, as provided for in the Universal Declaration of Human rights (UDHR, Article 21) and underscored in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR, Article25), is one among the major bedrocks of democracy. This right is exercised through the conduct of free and fair elections. However, many men and women in Asia are still denied of this basic right due to a number of obstacles hindering the growth of their democracy.
There are different levels of democracy that can be found in Asia today. There are (a) democracies emerging from autocratic or military rule; (b) newly-democratic states; (c) consolidating democracies; and (d) stable democracies. Some countries, like China, Vietnam, and Laos, have yet to begin their transition; while others, like Cambodia, Burma and Nepal, have backwards. Even countries with established democratic systems face democracy dilemmas ranging from racial or religious tension and the rise of extremism to poor representation and voter apathy.
Although the process of democratization in most of Asia has a long way to go, steps taken by various countries in the past decade to strengthen democracies in the region are commendable. But despite the support and attention on making the electoral process in the region more democratic and all-inclusive, several areas of concern still need to be tackled. These are especially true in countries that are faced with serious questions on the credibility of the electoral process.
The challenges besetting elections and democracy in Asia are in need of urgent attention. However, they can be only addressed when the roots and causes are identified accurately and the context is well understood.
The Asian Electoral Resource Center (AERC) is borne out of this need – to take up the role of providing the relevant information and correct perspective in understanding region and the political context of specific countries.
Website AERC : http://www.aerc-anfrel.org