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Governance Reform

Civil Society and the State: Opponents or Partners?

Sabina Panth's picture

When the globalization agenda pushed for democratic reform and decentralized system of governance in the early nineties, aid agencies began investing in civil society organizations to demand and deliver development services that the centralized state was not deemed effective in providing.  Now, with over two decades of civil society hype and non-government organizations (NGOs) mushrooming all over the developing world, it is time to appraise how or whether the contributions of these organizations have been integrated into national development priorities and goals.  
 

Murder and Impunity

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

The issues of journalism and a free press come to mind these days. With a significant number of journalists attacked in, among other countries, Russia, just in the past few months, we clearly see the dependence of the media system on the political environment in a country. Journalism training is the major form of media development - how to use new technologies, how to write a good feature, how to sniff out a corruption scandal - but is anyone thinking about what happens to reporters in countries where the rule of law is weak? This year alone, 16 journalists have been killed in the line of duty, as the Committee  to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reports. Last year: 71. Since 1992, more than 800 journalists have been murdered as a direct consequence of their reporting. Iraq, the Philippines, Algeria, and Russia are the four deadliest countries for journalists.

Benchmark to Monitor Public Services

Sabina Panth's picture

The demand driven accountability approach puts citizens in charge of monitoring public services.  But can ordinary citizens easily access public data against which they can monitor quality of services? What is the reference point against which standards are measured?  Can the government make the required information available? What are the incentives for the government to cooperate?  Citizens’ Charter initiatives attempt to respond to some of these queries.

The Last Ones To Understand Water Are The Fish

Naniette Coleman's picture

My norms and values are not subtle.  They are time tested, “fact” based and I grip them with the strength of a vice.  I am no different from others; we all value some things, look haltingly at others, and better still refuse to consider the norms and values of some.   We all want to be open, malleable to others views but do not always know how to do it.  Norms and values take on particular importance when we are working to build coalitions with others who do not share our way of looking at things. Minor differences suddenly seem larger than they actually are when we face compromise battles with others.   

The Technocrat and the Politician

Sina Odugbemi's picture

As a salute to the historic passage of health care reform in the United States, a story that this blog has been tracking, I want to recall something that Senator Barack Obama ( as he then was) said in 2008. It was in the course of his epic battle with Senator Hillary Clinton (as she then was) for the presidential nomination of the Democratic party. You will recall that the two of them debated health care reform interminably in those months. The issue was: was health care reform merely a problem of technical design?

Mastering the Conditions of Change

Antonio Lambino's picture

On a recent trip to Hong Kong and Macau, China’s two Special Administrative Regions (SARs), I was reminded repeatedly of people's tendency to search for heroes to make things better in public life.  The two SARs are engines of growth in the region -- the former due primarily to international trade and finance and the latter due to tourism and gambling -- and have highly developed infrastructure and efficient transportation services.  I was traveling with a large group of fellow Filipinos, all of us from a country struggling to improve governance in various sectors and the provision of public services.  Walking the streets of Hong Kong and Macau, many comments were made regarding the ease of public transport and modern facilities, from sidewalks and roads to air and sea ports.  Almost all of these conversations led to two persistent questions: “When will our own country catch up?” and “Who will stamp out corruption and lead the country to prosperity?”  I couldn’t help but notice that there wasn’t much discussion about how.

Financial Management Reforms and the Realities of Politics

Sina Odugbemi's picture

There is probably no area of 'governance reform' work that is as technocratic and as ubiquitous as public financial management reform. It is where experts of different kinds - economists, accountants, auditors or all the above - work on improving the plumbing of governments, how revenues are collected and managed with efficiency and a minimum of leakage. Because the technical skills involved are deep and carefully honed over years of specialist training it is also an area where experts often seek to work in a politics- free zone by trying to ignore taking on the realities of each political context and just work on the plumbing. There is no doubt that a lot of good work is going on here, but there is also no doubt that a lot of the work is less effective than it might have been because interventions don't seek to work the politics of the initiative.

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