APPLETON, WIS. — One of the country’s leading authorities on Central American politics examines the role of independent election observers in the region’s ongoing movement toward democratization in an address at Lawrence University.

Thomas Walker, professor emeritus of political science and director emeritus of Latin American studies at Ohio University, presents “International Electoral Observation: A Tool for Democratization and Peace in Latin America” Monday, May 7 at 4:30 p.m. in Lawrence’s Main Hall, Room 201. The event is free and open to the public.

Starting with the Nicaraguan elections of 1984 and progressing to the present, Walker will trace the evolving role, techniques and importance of international observation in Latin America elections. Throughout this period, electoral observation has been conducted by a variety of international organizations, including the British Parliament, the Latin American Studies Association and more recently, the Carter Center, the Organization of American States and the United Nations.

International observations, according to Walker, serve to reassure voters that the world is watching as well as preserve peace during and following tense electoral contests.

Walker has served as an electoral observer with the Latin American Studies Association in Nicaragua in 1984, 1990 and 1996 and for the Carter Center in Venezuela in 2004 and Nicaragua in 2006. He is the author or co-author of eight books, including “Nicaragua: Living in the Shadow of the Eagle” and “Understanding Central America: Global Forces, Rebellion and Regime Change.”

His appearance is sponsored by the Lawrence University Department of Spanish, Lawrence University’s Distinguished Visitor Grant and the Center for Latin American Studies at UW-Milwaukee.