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Abuse of State Resources Research and Assessment Framework


In many countries, the abuse of state resources (ASR) in elections is not sufficiently regulated, or there are significant disparities between what is written in the law and what happens in practice. These gaps may leave the electoral system vulnerable to manipulation by those in positions of power, undermine competitiveness, and reduce public trust in election outcomes. More broadly, ASR in elections can derail much-needed development, infrastructure, or social welfare projects and harm consolidation of the rule of law. Although the concept of abuse of state resources is indirectly highlighted in a handful of public law documents, the issue remains understudied and poorly understood. Additional research conducted under this project supports the democracy and governance community of practice to develop effective ASR frameworks and enforcement mechanisms.


CEPPS/IFES addressed the core research questions through the following activities:

  • In-depth desk and field research for comparative analysis (focused on countries with variable experiences addressing ASR in elections across the globe), which identified interventions that achieved success in addressing ASR, illustrated structural weaknesses, and highlighted potential solutions; and
  • Development and pilot testing of a detailed and rigorous assessment methodology focused on determining effectiveness of ASR legal and regulatory frameworks, as well as barriers to reform and enforcement.


  • What principles recognized in international law and comparative good practice inform the development of an effective ASR framework? What are the necessary elements of a legal framework that address these principles?
  • How should we define “effectiveness” in terms of the law? What indicates whether a law is effective?
  • What components of political will must be considered in order to make impactful recommendations for reform?
  • What factors outside of the legal framework contribute to the environment that enables ASR in elections?


The ASR methodology will be used by practitioners, including international and citizen (domestic) civil society actors, implementers, and advocates, to assess the effectiveness of ASR frameworks, develop meaningful recommendations and advocacy strategies, and inform subsequent program design. An abbreviated companion document, Abuse of State Resources Research and Assessment Framework: Guidelines for the Democracy and Governance Community of Practice, is also available online.


Abuse of State Resources Research and Assessment Framework: Guidelines for the Democracy and Governance Community of Practice 

This condensed version of the full assessment tool is intended as a less time- and resource-intensive option for international and citizen (domestic) civil society actors, implementers, and advocates to use in conducting an initial assessment of the effectiveness of the ASR legal framework in a given country.

Download the Full PDF Here

Funded by the United States Agency for International Development’s Global EPT Leader Cooperative Agreement No. AID-OAA-L-15-00007.
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