International IDEA was founded in 1995 and celebrates its 25 year anniversary on 19-20 November 2020.

1995-01-28 00:00:00

Establishment of International IDEA

The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance was founded in February 1995 with a unique mandate to support sustainable democracy worldwide. International IDEA’s work is based on three principles:

1995-02-27 12:53:49

Founding Member States

The Founding Conference of International IDEA took place on 27–28 February 1995 and involved 14 founding states: Australia, Barbados, Belgium, Chile, Costa Rica, Denmark, Finland, India, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and Sweden

1995-03-01 00:00:00

Message from the United Nations Secretary-General

“[The Institute] will serve as a rallying point for all who wish to assist democracy. It will record the examples of effective ways to support democracy. It will offer a long-term view of what must be done to sustain democracy.” Boutros Boutros-Ghali, United Nations Secretary-General, 1995

1995-10-19 16:36:54

International electoral observation

In October 1995 International IDEA partnered with the United Nations to organize a round-table meeting of electoral observation practitioners in Stockholm, Sweden.

1996-04-01 00:00:00

Sharing experiences: the Democracy Forum

The inaugural International IDEA Democracy Forum acted as a meeting place for the exchange of ideas on and experiences of democracy, and attracted distinguished participants from around the world.

1997-01-08 01:56:29


Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man’s inclination for injustice makes democracy necessary.

1997-01-22 18:33:31

More countries join International IDEA

Botswana, Canada and Namibia joined as Member States.

1997-07-01 14:49:41

Dialogues for democratic development in Burkina Faso

In 1997 the citizens of Burkina Faso led a series of dialogues on the reforms needed in order to improve their democratic processes and institutions.

1997-12-31 14:49:41

Electoral System Design

The choice of electoral system has a profound effect on the political life of a country.

1998-04-01 14:49:41

The Administration and Cost of Elections (ACE) Project

The Administration and Cost of Elections (ACE) Project, which started as a means of making material on elections available worldwide, has since become the most dynamic collection of information in its field, and is accessed online by almost 2 million visitors per year.

1998-08-01 14:49:41

Women in Parliament: Beyond Numbers

This International IDEA Handbook looks closely at women’s parliamentary participation.

1999-03-01 14:19:26

New Member State

Mauritius joined as International IDEA's 18th Member State.

1999-06-01 14:49:41

Indonesia: on the road to democracy

The June 1999 presidential elections in Indonesia marked the country’s first step on the road to democracy.

2000-02-25 10:20:51

Facilitating dialogue processes in Nigeria

In November 2000 International IDEA launched a report, Democracy in Nigeria: Continuing Dialogue(s) for Nation-Building, following an intensive consultation process involving hundreds of meetings throughout the country.

2000-06-01 14:49:41

Developing professionalism in electoral management

A group of electoral experts from around the world met in Canberra, Australia, to work out the structure and content of a short capacity-building programme for electoral administrators.

2000-10-22 15:05:43

What's in a name?

“Electoral Assistance is part of the Institute’s name. It is not so because we wanted an ‘E’ and an ‘A’ to finish ‘IDEA’. We wanted to signal that this Institute was more than a think tank; it had a practical mission as well as an intellectual one. And that mission was to provide assistance…That assistance would be in the electoral area – the machinery of democracy.”

2001-06-01 14:49:41

Democracy at the local level

The International IDEA Handbook "Democracy at the Local Level" was developed in response to the pressures facing cities attempting to deal with the social pressures due to globalization, growing urbanization and human migration.

2002-06-01 14:49:41

Voter turnout and much more data

International IDEA has been collecting comparative data on electoral processes and democracy related topics since its establishment in 1995.

2002-10-01 14:30:37

New International IDEA Secretary-General

Ms Karen Fogg, a former Head of European Union Delegation in Ankara, is appointed as the second Secretary-General of International IDEA

2002-12-01 04:32:28

Germany joins as Member State

In 2002 Germany joined to International IDEA bringing its experience and support on our mission.

2003-03-30 03:08:12

Mexico and Uruguay join International IDEA

In 2003 Mexico and Uruguay joined as Member States of International IDEA.

2003-07-01 14:30:37

Peru’s first political parties law

International IDEA started working in Latin America in 1997, initially engaging with Peru, the only country in the region without a law on political parties.

2003-12-09 07:34:16

International IDEA is granted observer status in the UN

On 9 December 2003, International IDEA was granted Observer Status at the United Nations, giving it privileged access to a number of policy forums in which democracy-related issues are discussed.

2004-04-01 03:08:12

New Member States

Cape Verde and Peru joined International IDEA in 2004.

2004-06-01 07:34:16

Electoral cycle

Recognizing the obstacles to the implementation of long-term assistance, International IDEA and the European Commission (EC) developed a planning and training tool in 2004 to help development agencies, electoral-assistance providers and electoral officials in partner countries better understand the challenges posed by the cyclical nature of the electoral process. This tool has become known as the Electoral Cycle Approach.

2005-06-01 07:34:16

Democracy can be assessed and measured

The Fifth UN International Conference of New or Restored Democracies (ICNRD-5) adopted the Ulaanbaatar Declaration and Plan of Action, committing governments to draw up and implement plans to strengthen democracy and ‘develop nationally-owned democratic governance’ indicators in order to monitor progress. In implementing its follow up actions to ICNRD-5, Mongolia chose International IDEA´s State of Democracy (SoD) assessment framework because it offered a practical template for assessing and establishing progress towards democracy

2005-07-30 23:38:16

A long-term process

“Democratization is a long-term process, and it must be built from within societies. It can neither be imported nor exported, but it surely can be supported.”

2006-04-01 07:34:16

Supporting the constitution-building process in Nepal

In April 2006, after mass protests, King Gyanendra of Nepal was forced to relinquish direct rule and establish multi-party government in the country.

2006-08-07 22:23:08

Switzerland joins

In 2006 Switzerland joined International IDEA.

2006-10-01 07:34:16

New International IDEA Secretary-General

Mr Vidar Helgesen, former Deputy Foreign Minister of Norway, is appointed Secretary-General of International IDEA.

2007-01-07 00:00:00

The African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance

In 2007, in an historic commitment to democracy, the African Union (AU) adopted the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.

2007-01-07 14:28:18

The Constitutent Assemblies in Bolivia and Ecuador

International IDEA contributed to the preparatory phase of Bolivia’s constitutional process by organizing an international seminar on experiences of constituent processes throughout the world.

2007-05-09 17:40:24

Changing political party rules in Mexico

Following the political heat generated by the 2006 Mexican presidential elections, in which Felipe Calderón prevailed by a margin of just 0.5 per cent, Mexico’s Senate embarked on an programme of political and electoral reforms which were adopted by Congress at the end of 2007.

2008-03-01 19:54:01

Ghana joins International IDEA

The Member States of International IDEA welcomed Ghana as a new member in 2008.

2008-04-01 22:03:14

Traditional justice and reconciliation after violent conflict: learning from African experiences

In some circumstances traditional mechanisms can complement conventional judicial systems and provide the potential for promoting justice, reconciliation and a culture of democracy.

2009-01-01 02:17:52

Increasing the representation of women in Bolivian politics

In Bolivia’s 2009 elections, women won 47 per cent of all Senate seats in the Senate, and occupied half of the ministries—a direct result of the introduction of the Temporary Electoral Law securing gender equality and parity, with provision for the alternation of male and female candidates on party voting lists.

2009-06-15 22:03:14

EU democracy support

International IDEA’s engagement with the EU reached a new level after the EU Council adopted specific conclusions on democracy support (Democracy Support in the EU’s External Relations) and a corresponding agenda for action (EU Agenda for Action on Democracy Support).

2009-12-02 09:43:14

Importance of an enduring constitution

My message to anybody negotiating anywhere is to have patience: it holds the key. Secondly, never be off sight of the principal goal: an enduring constitution for your country.

2010-12-17 22:03:14

Transitions in the West Asia North Africa region

When the Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire on 17 December 2010 to protest police harassment and humiliation, no one could predict what would follow.

2011-03-08 05:58:37

New Member States

The Dominican Republic and Mongolia joined as new Member States in 2011.

2011-03-08 22:03:14

Bringing election professionals closer

The Botswana Independent Electoral Commission and International IDEA worked together to host the 5th Global Electoral Organization Conference in Gaborone.

2011-04-15 22:03:14

Inter-Regional Dialogue on Democracy

Launched on 15 April 2011 at the headquarters of the Organization of American States (OAS), the Inter-Regional Dialogue on Democracy is a platform for engagement among regional organizations on democracy.

2011-06-01 22:03:14

The web resource further enhances International IDEA’s pool of online knowledge.

2011-12-01 22:03:14

Strengthening political parties in Haiti

More than 29 years after the end of the Duvalier regime, Haiti’s process of democratic transition is progressing slowly.

2011-12-29 22:03:14

More focus on Asia and the Pacific

The Asia Pacific region includes longstanding democracies such as India, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. Their ranks have been joined by countries such as Indonesia, Mongolia, the Philippines and the Republic of Korea.

2012-02-01 22:03:14

A practical guide to constitution building

The result of four years’ work, this Guide aims to respond to the knowledge needs of politicians, policymakers and practitioners involved in constitution building by drawing lessons from recent trends and practice.

2012-04-01 22:03:14

The Global Commission on Elections, Democracy and Security

The Global Commission on Elections, Democracy and Security was made up of eminent individuals from around the world.

2012-06-01 22:03:14

Strengthening European connections

Engagement with the European Union (EU) is important to international IDEA because it allows the Institute to promote its core activities, observe democratic trends, and influence democracy support policies and frameworks in EU external relations.

2012-12-01 22:03:14

Developments towards a transition to democracy in Myanmar

After almost 50 years of military dictatorship, Myanmar began a far-reaching democratic transition in 2010.

2013-02-01 22:03:14

Managing electoral risk

The Electoral Risk Management Tool (ERMTool) is designed to empower those who are responsible for or interested in ensuring that elections are peaceful and credible.


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