A reader's comment to the blog post Whose Will Constitutes 'Political Will'?
"Political will" is surely one of the more elusive terms in the international development community. Sina captures much of its ambiguity well in his posting. In addition to what it is, we might also ask where political will comes from. In some cases it originates with an individual, generally situated somewhere within the state apparatus (best if at a high level) who becomes the "champion" that Sina refers to. But political will can also stem from civil society advocacy that puts enough pressure on the state to develop the political will needed to bring about action. The civil rights movement in the USA had champions over many decades, and they made some progress (e.g., Eleanor Roosevelt and the Marian Anderson singing controversy of 1939, recently commemorated on its 70th anniversary at Lincoln Memorial this past Easter in Washington). So there was some political will in high places that helped. President Truman's desegregation of the US military in 1948 offers another example. But it took another 20 years and a huge, sustained civil society effort to accumulate the pressure needed to strengthen political will sufficiently to pass the landmark civil rights legislation of the mid-1960s. So it was a combination of political will on the inside and civil society on the outside that moved civil rights along over the years, with each reinforcing the other. More recent examples abound (e.g., environment, women's movement). Analyzing the synergy involved and crafting ways to support it should be a critical focus of CommGAP.