There is no denying that governments across the world today are facing increasingly complex pressures that are altering the world in which we live – fragility, conflict and violence; large migration flows; the amplifying impact of technology; tensions in managing scarce resources; and more complicated service provision needs. These pressures are re-defining the relationship between citizens and the state and leaving many asking what the role of government in the 21st century should be.
Editor’s note: This is the first installment of a two-part series. You can read part-two here. The findings, interpretations, and conclusions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of the World Bank Group, its Board of Directors or the governments they represent.
The World Development Report 2017 on Governance and the Law has cast some much welcome attention on the role of law in development. Compared to other sectors, international aid to the justice sector has been relatively low: only 1.8% of total aid flows, compared with 7.4% and 7.5% for the health and education sectors respectively between 2005 and 2013. More than that, the WDR 2017 is commendable for successfully articulating a positive and coherent if cautious view of law’s role.
The idea that economic growth needs good governance and good governance needs economic growth takes us to a perennial chicken-and-egg debate: Which comes first in development—good governance OR economic growth? For decades, positions have been sharply divided between those who advocate “fix governance first” and others who say “stimulate growth first.”