Election observation has grown exponentially over the past three decades and has become a tool for legitimizing elections on a global scale. These missions have played different roles that have overlapped over time: observers are seen as doctors, police officers, judges and election experts. A great diversity of national and international actors is involved in the organization of the missions, in what has become a real professional environment. However, little is known about the concrete operation of these missions and the factors that determine how the observer’s eye is shaped. A pioneer in election observation, Latin America offers a prime field to study them. Participatory and comparative observation of the practices adopted by three types of actors (international organizations, regional organizations of electoral authorities and NGOs) in three different countries (Ecuador, Colombia and Mexico) makes it possible to show to what extent objectives, methodologies and results of these organizations differ. Contrary to the rhetoric displayed by governments, rather than a unique election observation mission, there are many points of view that depend on the role adopted by the organization and the many constraints on its work.
Kari De Pryck
What kind of future worlds do experts of international security envision? This paper studies the role of experts in DC's think tanks, a relatively small world socially and culturally highly homogeneous. It underlines the characteristics of this epistemic community that influence the way its analysts make claims about the future for security. The DC's marketplace of the future lacks diversity. The paradigms analysts use when they study international politics are very similar. Moreover, the range of issues they focus on is also relatively narrow.
The paper highlights three main features of the relation between those who make claims about the future of security and those to whom these claims are addressed (mainly policymakers). First, it shows that, for epistemic but also for political reasons, the future imagined in think tanks is relatively stable and linear. This future also contributes to the continuity of political decisions. Second, the paper shows that think tanks are also "victims of groupthink", especially when they make claims about the future. Third, it underlines a paradox: scenarios and predictions create surprises. Claims about the future have a strong tunneling effect. They reinforce preexisting beliefs, create focal points, and operate as blinders when, inevitably, the future breaks away from its linear path.
“Natural” risks and catastrophes appeared in the international arena in the early 1990s. A real « world » of “natural” catastrophes has emerged internationally and has become more and more institutionalized. This study raises questions such as: how has this space been built? How do actors legitimize its necessity? What does it tell us about the way the contemporary world manages fears globally? A diachronic approach of this double process of internationalization and institutionalization allows the author to situate the phenomenon in the historical and global context, and notably of a context of transformation of the notion of security. The sociological analysis of the main multilateral organizations that contribute to forming this space invites us to apprehend the various lines of tension that cross over, and to foresee its complexity. Despite the many attempts to make this space appear as a “community” of sense and practices, strong disparities characterize the actors’ approaches.