Law and justice play a fundamental role in development processes. In rich and poor countries alike, regulations and rule systems—consisting of a complex web of formal institutions, informal arrangements and hybrid social norms—shape everything from education, land use and agriculture to labor standards, market exchange and everyday social interactions.
“The edge of chaos is the balance point where the components of a system never quite lock into place, and yet never quite dissolve into turbulence, either…The edge of chaos is the constantly shifting battle zone between stagnation and anarchy, the one place where a complex system can be spontaneous, adaptive and alive...” - M. Mitchell Waldrop, Complexity.
At a recent gathering of World Bank staff in Helsinki to take stock of progress on activities supported by the Nordic Trust Fund on Human Rights (NTF), one found lawyers, health specialists, economists and other social scientists. There were participants from all regions, from network anchors and from operations; there were those focused on research, those integrating human rights perspectives into operations, and those supporting our clients’ efforts to strengthen human rights.
When it comes to confronting the issue of ill-gotten money (through corruption or tax evasion, for example) and its negative impact on development outcomes, we development professionals have often been guilty of tinkering at the edges of the problem, while avoiding confronting its root cause. Through recent work, we are attempting to rectify this dilemma.
Public Financial Management (PFM) reforms around the world are often designed and monitored by a handful of ‘technical experts’. Not in Sierra Leone. The Sierra Leone Integrated Public Financial Management Project (IPFMRP) is one of the few Bank-funded projects in which a Government has decided to channel $ 1.0 million of its grant funds to civil society to monitor the use of public funds.
He said it in Washington; now he has said it again in London. Who? Former UK premier Tony Blair, speaking at ODI on governance and leadership for development in Africa.
What has he been saying? That the better governance low-income Africa needs is about getting better leadership (here understood as ‘effective capacity to get things done’) – not just a matter of more transparency and greater accountability.
By any account, the amount of money stolen by corrupt officials and bureaucrats in developing and transition economies each year is vast. It is estimated that the amount of stolen assets is as high as US$ 40 billion per year, but there are experts who put the figure even higher.
We know very little about governments’ willingness to take risks. Technologies to enhance public sector performance are widely known and available nowadays, but we still can't predict when governments are likely to take risks in the implementation of complex public sector reforms.
In 2010, the Delhi High Court issued a landmark ruling on the right of poor women to access maternity benefit schemes. The case involved Fatema, a woman suffering epilepsy, who went into labor in May, 2009. Although Fatema’s mother went to the hospital to request an ambulance and assistance, as the baby girl was also suffering an epileptic seizure, she was turned away.
The Arab Spring has aroused great expectations, with the slogans for “freedom now” and some factions’ liberal dreams of Western-style democracy. But beneath this enthusiasm is an uneasy sense that getting from here to there is not so straightforward. The new limited access order (LAO) framework can help us understand better the implications of the Arab Spring and the realistic options going forward.