New York, NY — The Armenian National Committee applauds Global Exchange, a San Francisco based human rights organization, for sending a delegation of independent human rights observers to Nagorno-Karabagh this month for its parliamentary elections. Tom Miller, Human Rights Attorney and General Counsel of Global Exchange, and Chris Michael, Coordinator of the Global Exchange Democracy Program, will lead the delegation. They will be joined by Dan Shartin and Leontina Hormel, both of Worcester State College, and its Center for the Study of Human Rights. The delegation will arrive in Karabagh the week prior to the June 19th elections.
“This delegation led by Global Exchange and the Center for the Study of Human Rights marks an important step in building a highly functioning civil society in Karabagh,” stated Dikran Kaligian, Chairman of the Armenian National Committee for the Eastern United States. “Global Exchange comes to Karabagh with broad experience in election monitoring, while Worcester State College’s Center has extensive contacts in the human rights community. The Karabagh conflict has raised controversial issues regarding democracy in the region. All parties will be well served by allowing impartial observers to be present during elections in Karabagh, as well as in Armenia and Azerbaijan.”
With Azerbaijan under scrutiny for rigged elections and corruption, fledgling Karabagh feels it can hardly afford to hold unfair elections, especially when its de jure status still hangs in the balance internationally. However, sources in the region report pre-election hirings and firings, bribes and pork-barrel spending, and various forms of intimidation in the run up to the elections.
Global Exchange (GX) is an international human rights organization with a long history of promoting democracy and social and environmental justice around the world. Founded in 1988, GX has worked to increase global awareness among the U.S. public while building partnerships around the world. Its Political and Civil Rights Campaigns include the monitoring and reporting on human rights as well as elections observation. GX has supported civil society and democracy movements in Mexico, Haiti, Guatemala, South Africa, Indonesia, and numerous other countries. In 2004 Global Exchange invited observers from around the world to observe the November Presidential election in the United States (see: www.fairelection.us).
“We look forward to this opportunity to observe human rights conditions and political processes in an area of the world most Americans know very little about. Peace and democracy in the Caucuses region is of vital international importance. We view the deepening involvement of international civil and non-governmental organizations in the region as critical both to better understanding and hopes for just resolution of ongoing conflicts there,” said Ted Lewis, Global Exchange’s Human Rights Director.
The Massachusetts-based Center for the Study of Human Rights at Worcester State College was recently cited by the Massachusetts State Senate for “contributing to the advancement of human rights through community and academic education”. Dr. Henry Theriault, The Center’s coordinator, said, “Professors Shartin and Hormel bring much to the table in terms of expertise and a deep commitment to human rights and democracy.”