The EOS database is an initiative of The Carter Center’s Democratic Election Standards project. First launched in 2010 as the Database of Obligations for Democratic Elections, and updated in 2018 and 2021, EOS now consolidates over 300 public international law sources related to human rights and elections.

This resource enables observers, election assistance providers, researchers, and citizens to link election quality to countries’ specific human rights and democratic obligations. The EOS framework uses international law because assessments based on these sources are more transparent, objective, and acceptable to host countries. They also offer the best foundation for harmonizing a common understanding of standards for democratic elections.

More about EOS, obligations, and standards

In addition to international and regional treaties that states have accepted voluntarily, EOS includes judicial decisions and treaty interpretations, non-binding declarations influential in customary law, and handbooks and other documents indicative of state practice.

Through an extensive review of these documents, The Carter Center has identified 21 fundamental rights and obligations relevant to the electoral process. EOS includes text excerpts from international instruments that support each obligation and associates them with one or more of the ten parts of the electoral process. The database enables users to search by obligation, election part, country, authoring organization, keyword, or a combination of these.

In 2014, The Carter Center has published a companion text to the database in hardcopy, Election Obligations and Standards: A Carter Center Assessment Manual. It is available in PDF, here in English, here in Spanish, and here in French. The EOS database has been updated and includes new sources and can supplement the information in the handbook.

More resources related to election observation can be found at the Democratic Election Standards website.

How to cite EOS

For citation purposes, we suggest the following:

Election Obligations and Standards Database (EOS), The Carter Center (accessed date).

As EOS is a living database of document excerpts that continues to grow, please include the date of access. Specific searches or filtering will produce unique URLs that will retrieve the same contents when re-used.


Please direct any inquiries regarding EOS to Applied.Research@cartercenter.org


In any case where attribution for a document is incorrect or inclusion is against the wishes of the author, please notify the Center at the email address above and we will act immediately to correct this error upon notification.

The Center thanks the many colleagues and partner organizations that have provided comments and have helped to guide this work since 2005. In addition, The Carter Center would like to thank the following donors for their generous support:

  • Mr. and Mrs. Shawn M. Aebi
  • Mr. and Mrs. Gaby Ajram/Ajram Family Foundation
  • Canadian International Development Agency
  • Dr. Peter B. Danzig and Ms. Lava Thomas
  • Mr. Carroll J. Haas, Sr./Carroll J. Haas Foundation
  • John C. and Karyl Kay Hughes Foundation
  • Government of Ireland/Irish Aid
  • Sonja and Tom Koenig and family
  • Mr. and Mrs. Lembhard G. Howell
  • Mr. Michael Nelson and Ms. Louise Derocher
  • Mr. Steven E. Nothern
  • Ms. Cherida C. Smith
  • Mr. and Mrs. James N. Stanard
  • The Willow Springs Foundation