Falling in with a more assertive “Geneva International” approach as a hub for planetary concerns, a 50-strong team from the Global Network for Rights and Development (GNRD) leaves for Egypt this week as part of a broader observer mission to monitor the country’s presidential elections on 26–27 May. The GNRD, one of six invited international organizations, will operate with Maat for Peace as its local partner, which is deploying some 2,000 observers of its own. More than 53 million Egyptians are eligible to vote in the forthcoming presidential race between the former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, and Hamdeen Sabahi of the Popular Current party. “We hope that our mission will positively contribute to Egypt’s transition process to democracy with respect for human rights and the fundamental freedoms of the Egyptian people,” said Shady Gouda, director of GNRD-Geneva.
Given that the election comes in the wake of violence resulting in the deaths of an estimated 1,500 people, including military and police as well as Muslim Brotherhood supporters, the initiative will seek to scrutinize all stages of the elections to assure both fairness and transparency. A joint report will be issued by the GNRD on its return. The GNRD, which is based in Norway, but recently opened an office in Geneva, previously oversaw Egypt’s constitutional referendum last January. It has also participated in observer missions to South Sudan, Jordan and Algeria. With Michael Møller, the UN’s Danish head in Geneva, pushing for a more coordinated strategy among the UN agencies, NGOs, private sector and donors to respond to global issues, the GNRD set up shop in Geneva to improve its diplomatic links with the Palais des Nations.