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M. Massimo Tommasoli, Permanent Observer for International IDEA to the United Nations

As an intergovernmental organization focused on democracy, International IDEA is uniquely suited to assist the UN on democracy-building initiatives. Since its creation in 1995, the Institute has helped the United Nations make democracy-building more effective, legitimate and sustainable.

Mission statement

The Office of the Permanent Observer for International IDEA to the United Nations promotes multilateral dialogue and UN policies that advance democracy-building efforts worldwide. The Office of the Permanent Observer also develops partnerships with UN agencies and programmes.


Areas of cooperation

IDEA works with the United Nations Secretariat and UN agencies and programmes to:

  • Gather comparative knowledge on electoral institutions and processes, political party systems, constitution building, gender and democracy, and the analysis of the state of democracy;
  • Develop analysis based on best practices collected by IDEA through its work on the ground; and
  • Implement programmes that support democratic reforms in Latin America, Africa and Asia.


Permanent observer status

The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance was an idea in the making for several years before its founding in 1995. Critical to IDEA's inception was a strong partnership with the United Nations, its departments and specialized agencies working on democratic governance and electoral processes. Although IDEA operates independently of the UN, its Member States are also UN Members and, in the spirit of cooperation, both organizations work closely together on democracy initiatives.

On 9 December 2003, the UN General Assembly granted Observer status to International IDEA. Like all Observers, IDEA representatives may speak at General Assembly meetings and sponsor and sign resolutions. Observers may not vote on resolutions.


The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) is an intergovernmental organization that supports sustainable democracy worldwide.

International IDEA’s mission is to support sustainable democratic change by providing comparative knowledge, and assisting in democratic reform, and influencing policies and politics.

International IDEA at the United Nations

Michele Bachelet at UN Gender Roundtable

Democracy and Gender Equality Roundtable, 4 May 2011

Building democracy is a goal closely related to the three pillars of the United Nations – development, peace and security, and human rights. As a Permanent Observer to the United Nations, International IDEA supports the UN’s objectives by:

  • Contributing to UN policy debates and agendas on democracy;
  • Partnering with the UN to develop internationally accepted codes of conduct, principles and best-practice guidance in the fields of democracy assistance; and
  • Helping the UN implement democracy-assistance initiatives around the world.


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