International Electoral Services

Updated: 17 June 2014

The Australian Electoral Commission's International services objectives include enhancing the consolidation of democracy and good governance by developing and implementing programs for the provision of high quality electoral assistance, and to enable AEC staff to participate in the implementation of electoral procedures in a quite different context from that of Australia.

The AEC undertakes international electoral work in accordance with paragraph 7(1)(fa) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 ("Functions and Powers of Commission") in close cooperation with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and, in relation to peacekeeping, the Australian Defence Force and the Australian Federal Police.

The majority of the funding for the AEC's international work comes from outside the AEC, from bodies such as AusAID, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the United Nations, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), and the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES). The AEC has developed strong working relationships with all these bodies and actively pursues networking with its counterparts in the Asian, Pacific and Southern African regions, particularly through the PIANZEA Network.

AEC officers have provided expert electoral assistance in a range of countries including Bangladesh, Botswana, Cambodia, East Timor, Ethiopia, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), South Africa, Tanzania and Zanzibar, Uganda, Western Sahara, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. AEC officers assist as advisers, observers, and polling officials. AEC officers have also been made available to serve in a private capacity in Croatia, Montenegro, Liberia, Kosovo and Albania.

The AEC also hosts electoral study tours for visiting overseas delegations, Study tour programmes include information sessions presented by AEC officers in areas such as electoral legislation, election operations, information technology, information and education, funding and disclosure. Delegations from Bangladesh, Fiji, Malaysia, Namibia, Samoa, South Africa,Thailand and Uganda and have undertaken AEC study tours.

The objectives of the AEC's International activities are:

  • to enhance the consolidation of democracy and good governance by developing and implementing programmes for the provision of high quality electoral assistance, emphasising the development of domestic capacity;
  • to enhance the standing of Australia in the eyes of the international community; and
  • to enhance staff development and increase staff satisfaction by enabling staff to participate in the implementation of electoral procedures in a quite different context from that of Australia.

Work undertaken by AEC officers is diverse and includes:

  • undertaking technical assistance and electoral capacity building projects with the electoral authorities of other countries to ensure that sufficient skills and resources are available within a community to carry out the requirements for future elections;
  • participation in election observation missions, in countries such as South Africa;
  • survey missions for the planning of peacekeeping operations in countries such as Cambodia; and
  • high level and middle level management and policy work in peacekeeping operations involving elections.