[JURIST] UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan [official profile] on Thursday endorsed [press release] a Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation [PDF text] and an accompanying Code of Conduct in efforts to begin establishing new standards for international election monitoring. The new standards stress that human rights and democracy cannot be achieved without the protections of the rule of law, and require that participating observer organizations maintain impartiality through all stages of the election process. The guidelines also bar monitors from accepting funding from host governments and call for freedom of movement and full access to information for monitors. Annan said that "The presence of international election observers -- fielded always at the invitation of sovereign States -- can make a big difference in ensuring that elections genuinely move the democratic process forward. Their mere presence can dissuade misconduct, ensure transparency, and inspire confidence in the process." The guidelines are the result of a joint effort by the UN Electoral Assistance Division [official website], the Carter Center [official website] and the National Democratic Institute [official website]. UN News has more.