When the government of Uganda released a report ranking the Police Force as the most corrupt institution in Western Uganda, a native NGO called the National Foundation for Democracy and Human Rights (NAFODU) responded with a series of measures to bring changes in the ways the Police Force is operated in order to restore public trust and confidence in the institution.
These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
"People who argue for more transparency in development cooperation are often eager to point out all the merits of transparency. Unfortunately, often we are not very sure whether our claims are well founded. Even worse, there are very few examples who can illustrate how exactly, "more transparency" could look like. The International Aid Transparency Initiative which will be implemented by the first donors in 2011 is a concrete example of governmental and multilateral donors representing a large percentage of global ODA making aid information available and accessible.
Also, in non-governmental development cooperations efforts are underway to increase accountability and transparency. The UK-based NGO OneWorldTrust even created a website to map over 300 NGO accountability initiatives around the world. But there are few concrete examples of making the information about work of more than one NGO transparent and easily accessible."
Just read a prescient New Yorker blog post on the sudden proliferation of plans for in-house Wikileaks-style operations at major media outlets. Al Jazeera started this trend with its "Transparency Unit," and the New York Times is now said to be developing something similar. It can't be long before others jump on the bandwagon. Author Raffi Khatchadourian (who authored this New Yorker profile of Julian Assange last year) does a nice job of attempting to map the just-emerging implications of this (possible) trend. Says Khatchadourian: "If the WikiLeaks model were to grow beyond WikiLeaks - much in the way social networking outgrew its earliest online incarnations - and develop more fully within the ambit of conventional media, it is likely that it would change in a way that reflects the different sources of authority that a stateless publisher and a conventional news organization each draw upon."
This piece was originally contributed to the Governance for Development Blog.
The entity often known as ‘the international community’ has a touching faith in standard liberal constitutions and one-person-one-vote elections. Now, while those are outstanding human inventions, it is becoming clearer every day that in plural, deeply divided societies these inventions alone will not lead to settled systems of governance.
A few days ago, The New York Times published a piece on Indian citizens who have been intimidated, harassed, and killed because they made access to information requests on questionable government activities. Many previous posts on this blog have featured successes and failures regarding various country experiences on right/access to information laws and their uneven implementation. We have discussed threats and violence experienced by courageous people who have attempted to use such laws to dig up corrupt practices occurring in their own backyards. These individuals are especially brave because they are located where the many eyes and ears of the mighty and powerful can easily find them. They have nowhere to hide.
"Government (in a democracy) cannot be stronger or more tough-minded than its people. It cannot be more inflexibly committed to the task than they. It cannot be wiser than the people."
Building on Johanna's earlier post on social media, I thought I'd highlight a few points from Clay Shirky's new piece in Foreign Affairs, entitled "The Political Power of Social Media" (users must register). The essay is a thought-provoking contribution to the ongoing discussion about technology's political impact - and it also gives me an opportunity to clarify a few issues regarding my thinking on the Internet and authoritarian regimes.
The AkiraChix, an-all girls’ team, was declared a winner of the recently held IPO48 software development competition in Kenya. The IPO48 initiative brought together 100 participants from all over the country to pitch their ideas, question business models, form teams and create 17 prototypes and products which, by the end of 48 hours, were ready for the market (Afrinnovator). The winning girls came up with an innovative M-Farm, a mobile-based marketplace that is targeted to small-scale farmers to increase their agriculture productivity.
A desperate, totally fed up young graduate sets himself on fire in a small, provincial town in his country and within weeks eddies of violent protests by citizens all over the country bring down an authoritarian regime. And everyone is stunned by both the suddenness and the scale of it all. But the philosopher, Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), would not have been surprised. He would have reminded the world of three things that he always said in the course of his long life: