About IDEA at the UN

As an intergovernmental organization focused on democracy, International IDEA is uniquely suited to assist the UN on democracy-building initiatives. Since its creation in 1995, the Institute has helped the United Nations make democracy-building more effective, legitimate and sustainable.

Mission statement

The Office of the Permanent Observer for International IDEA to the United Nations promotes multilateral dialogue and UN policies that advance democracy-building efforts worldwide. The Office of the Permanent Observer also develops partnerships with UN agencies and programmes.


Areas of cooperation

IDEA works with the United Nations Secretariat and UN agencies and programmes to:

  • Gather comparative knowledge on electoral institutions and processes, political party systems, constitution building, gender and democracy, and the analysis of the state of democracy;
  • Develop analysis based on best practices collected by IDEA through its work on the ground; and
  • Implement programmes that support democratic reforms in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

Permanent observer status

The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance was an idea in the making for several years before its founding in 1995. Critical to IDEA's inception was a strong partnership with the United Nations, its departments and specialized agencies working on democratic governance and electoral processes. Although IDEA operates independently of the UN, its Member States are also UN Members and, in the spirit of cooperation, both organizations work closely together on democracy initiatives.

On 9 December 2003, the UN General Assembly granted Observer status to International IDEA. Like all Observers, IDEA representatives may speak at General Assembly meetings and sponsor and sign resolutions. Observers may not vote on resolutions.


New York office

The Office of the Permanent Observer of International IDEA opened in February 2007. The Office represents IDEA at the UN General Assembly, analyzes UN policy debates, engages with the Permanent Missions to the UN of IDEA’s Member States, explores new partnership possibilities between IDEA and the UN, and develops links with U.S.- and Canadian-based democracy-building institutions. 

Staff members

  • Dr. Massimo Tommasoli, Permanent Observer and Director of the Office
  • Ms. Ruby Garvey, Administrative Assistant
  • Ms. Jessica Pomerantz, Administrative Assistant


For information about internships, please contact unobserver@idea.int. Please note that internships are unpaid.


Contact information

Office of the Permanent Observer for International IDEA to the United Nations
336 East 45th Street, 14th Floor
New York, NY 10017 USA
Phone: +1-212-286-1084
Fax: +1-212-286-0260
E-mail: unobserver@idea.int


Map to International IDEA's UN Office