These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
Last Friday in Tanzania, nearly 100 civil society groups and 12 international organizations, including the International Budget Partnership, Greenpeace and ONE, launched a global effort to make public budgets transparent, participatory and accountable. Budgets are the most critical tool that governments have to address problems like poverty, provide critical services like education and health care, and invest in their country’s future. When the political speeches end, it is how governments actually manage funds to meet their promises and priorities that matters.
The Civil Society Movement for Budget Transparency, Accountability and Participation envisions public finance systems that make all budget information easily accessible, provide meaningful opportunities for citizens and civil society to participate in budget decisions and oversight throughout the process, and include strong institutions to hold governments accountable for how they raise and spend the public’s money. READ MORE 
Technology for Africa: Good Governance in a Wired World 
Dakar, Senegal was host city to UNDP’s recent Africa Forum on Civil Society and Governance Assessments. It brought together researchers, development practitioners and technology experts from more than 30 countries to reflect on best practices in civil society and governance assessments and how to promote democratic governance through increased accountability and inclusive participation (buzzwords!). A selection of digital platforms and innovations were presented to showcase how technology can be harnessed to make governance assessments more efficient and empowerordinary citizens. This post focuses on the technology and innovation session at Dakar and the perceived limitations of these tools in an African context. READ MORE 
The Power of Social Media in Developing Nations 
On January 28, 2011, Egypt’s President, Hosni Mubarak, took the drastic and unprecedented step of shutting off the Internet for five days across an entire nation. His reason for doing so was simple: to halt the flow of communication and coordinated assembly taking place over social media platforms, like Facebook and Twitter. That Mubarak took this desperate step — which cost Egypt an estimated $90 million and outraged the international community — demonstrates the incredible power of social media. Mubarak’s decision to shut off the Internet took place after three days of demonstrations by tens of thousands of Egyptians. Although the demonstrations were centered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square (or “Liberation Square”), there were also substantial demonstrations in Alexandria, Mansoura, and Suez. The protesters expressed outrage over several issues, including state corruption, police brutality, and economic oppression. Their demand was clear: President Hosni Mubarak must leave the country. READ MORE 
Anti-Corruption Resource Center
Extractive sectors and illicit financial flows: What role for revenue governance initiatives? 
Countries highly dependent on natural resources are among the most severely affected by the problem of illicit financial flows. Despite a lack of definite studies proving the correlation between higher dependency on natural resources and higher levels of illicit flows, there are grounds to believe extractive industries’ revenues provide a large contribution to these flows. Most existing initiatives to address governance issues in extractive sectors have not been designed with the problem of illicit financial flows in mind. READ MORE 
Space for Transparency
In Russia, the Fight Against Corruption Goes Online 
Several years ago, an intellectual movement called Lebed (which stands for “the swan” in Russian) was created with the aim to bring together intellectuals, journalists, scientists and public figures of the Vladimir region in Russia. The goal of the movement was to unite the efforts of modern thinking people of the region to develop tools for efficient civic activism. From the very beginning the movement was in contact with TI Russia, because the main field for civic activism in Russia in recent years is anti-corruption work.
By August 2008, TI Russia launched Askjournal.ru – an anti-corruption online helpdesk which was later developed into a regional Advocacy and Legal Advice Centre (ALAC) in Vladimir with the help of the Lebed movement. The ALAC helped people to overcome administrative barriers and build relationships with government bodies in a legal and transparent way. But the number of complaints that could not be solved without participation of the media and without public support kept growing. READ MORE