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Submitted by Christina Frey / DAI on

On behalf of the DAI Governance Technical Team:

We welcome the focus on Governance and particularly the emphasis on the role of power and elite bargaining - a factor that is critical but that much of the recent thinking hasn’t been very explicit about.

Overall, the report’s emphasis was on governance; “The Law” seems to be barely covered. There is a vast amount of both literature and practical examples of what “the law” means in the context we work in, how it is bargained, how it shapes behaviour and is shaped by behaviour, and in turn the link between “the law” and power (im)balances. The report has said little about “the law” and the interface with justice and what this practically means for “driving change”. Particularly in the context of today’s politics, and the amount of conflict and fragility many countries are affected by, and the amount of countries that are recovering from or transitioning out of conflict, some more emphasis seems relevant. To take this a step further, there is a question around the correlation between the law and stability, growth and equity that is not covered.

In fact, the quotes on page 34 (para 0.78) sums this up quite nicely "think the role of law, not only the rule of law". It would be good to see more of this.

If the title of the report is to remain as it is – it would be good to see these two topics and their interrelatedness covered more comprehensively.

Power and political settlements: Impact on Security, Growth and Equity. Commitment, Coordination and Cooperation are critical for making policies effective – Yes, absolutely. But Effective for whom? This is where the power linkage comes in, but the report then seems to stop there.

It is quite clear on how important it is to understand the power asymmetries. What this section doesn’t capture, however, is what this really means for growth, stability and equity. Yes, inclusive political settlements are necessary for stability, growth and equity – but often these are mutually exclusive.

What has happened in a number of cases is that inclusive and stable political settlements have indeed led to economic growth and stability, but have, often by the same measure, undermined socially inclusive policies or policies of redistribution (i.e. equity). This is especially the case in many of the so-called success stories (such as Botswana, just to use one example).

Legitimacy is Trust: “Outcome legitimacy is related to trust…” (footnote 14). Legitimacy is critical for policy effectiveness and trust is indeed critical for legitimacy. But this seems to assume that trust is given on the basis of rationality, rather than personal factors and underlying incentives. So trust will lead to legitimacy but legitimacy of what? Not necessarily “good” policy outcomes (the Brexit would be a prime example of this). How can the analysis link legitimacy clearer to power dynamics and representation of wants or needs? And what does this mean for development practitioners?

Entry Points: Page 15: “… to consider how the policy arena can be reshaped…” – Given the complex power dynamics, we can only assume that we can look for ways of reshaping the environment we work in, but realistically must also find ways of driving incremental change within the existing policy arena. Practical steps seem to be missing out here.

Drivers of Change: Elites, Citizen, International – This conceptualisation of drivers of change seems to be excluding critical players and organised constituencies. For example, civil society, unions, the media, research organisations, the private sector, and others, all of which can play a critical role in driving change.