On May, 11th 2019, lawyers of European Foundation of Human Rights (EFHR) – Evelina Dobrovolska and Monika Guliakaitė – met with representatives of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) election observation mission of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). ODIHR carries out election observation in OSCE participating States to assess the extent to which elections respect fundamental freedoms and are characterized by equality, universality, political pluralism, confidence, transparency and accountability. The EFHR already met OSCE’s representatives on two occasions in 2013 and 2016 regarding elections as well.
The meeting focused on the upcoming presidential elections in Lithuania, that will take place on May, 12th 2019. During this meeting in particular, the OSCE’s representatives evaluated different aspects of the presidential campaign and elections, in relation to national minorities, and especially their participation in the presidential election.
Indeed, in a previous report, the OSCE highlighted different areas that Lithuania should consider amending in order to ensure proper participation of representatives of national minorities in political life. Furthermore, according to Article 15 of the Framework Convention for Protection of National Minorities (FCMN), States ‘’shall create the conditions necessary for the effective participation of persons belonging to national minorities in cultural, social and economic life and in public affairs, in particular those affecting them’’. The OSCE also added that the Lithuanian’s electoral system should facilitate minority representation in the political sphere.
Though, the effective participation and representation of national minorities in political elections stays an important challenge in Lithuania. The EFHR hopes that the observation and insights provided to OSCE will be useful, and the recommendations made by the OSCE to Lithuania will contribute to the proper participation of national minorities in political life.