The Human Development Report 2002, Deepening Democracy in a Fragmented World (http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/HDR_2002_EN_Complete.pdf), explicitly reaffirmed the idea that “politics is as important to successful development as economics”. Today, ten years later, the world is no less fragmented and the idea that the quality of politics and governance is as important as the economy is more pronounced than ever.
In 2011 and 2012, the world witnessed the mobilization of people, particularly young people, demanding more accountability, transparency and participation in governance. The persistence of the economic crisis and the increasing discontent of people, posed questions related to the “system itself”, bringing democratic governance to the centre of the debate on politics and the agenda of sustainable human development.
Economic, political and social signals indicate that the world is undergoing a transformation in terms of knowledge, communications, institutions and new expectations. It can be argued that the world is entering a critical juncture caused by the accumulation of a series of factors in recent years. First, there is scepticism, even outright aversion in some circles, toward market institutions that has emerged in the light of the 2008 recession and the inability of national governments and international finance institutions to effectively address it. Second, there is a widely perceived threat to sustainable human development that stems from the failure of the international community to find consensus on issues that are of critical importance to the human condition. Third, people are growing suspicious toward simple institutional and technical “fixes” that have dominated approaches to development, including governance, since the 1990s. Finally, the unexpected political awakening in North Africa, the Arab World and several other countries around the world has stirred minds into renewed thinking about accountability and governance.
Global Democratic Governance Report: objectives, analytical framework and structure
To contribute to changing thinking about effective development practice in the context of a variety of global and regional trends, UNDP Democratic Governance Group (DGG) will produce a flagship publication – the Global Democratic Governance Report (GDGR) – exploring the role of democratic governance in relation to key development challenges, including the importance of ensuring inclusive growth, and sustainable human development. In particular, the publication will build on the role of public and private institutions, with a central role for the inclusive, accountable and responsive state in meeting these challenges in different country and regional contexts and in relation to different governance challenges.
Objectives of the report:
The Global Democratic Governance Report will analyze the state of democratic governance in different countries and regions of the world in light of the global, regional and national shifts in economic, social and political relations. It is first of all meant to bring a better conceptual clarity to the idea of democratic governance and to provide a comprehensive perspective on “democratic governance in action”: the principles and practice of democratic governance in different regions and how diversely it is being conceived and practiced in varying socio-political and economic contexts.
Further on, GDGR will reflect on the progress/regression experienced in the decade 2002-2012 and analyze democratic governance in a two-dimensional framework of legitimacy and functional performance illustrating the connections between political process, governance and sustainable human development. The report will explore the implications of increasing social, economic and political inequalities for democratic governance and how multiple forms of insecurities pose challenges for democratic governance.
The specific objectives of the report are:
- Identify the democratic governance trends in the last ten years in relation to the major shifts taking place in the world;
- Strengthen the knowledge and practice of democratic governance by identifying best practices and the implications of democratic governance at the local, regional and global levels;
- Provide strategic knowledge and inputs to the post 2015 agenda through national and international consultations;
- Develop a democratic governance indicator framework to enable periodic assessments of democratic governance every two years;
- To strengthen and complement the Human Development Report.
The report will present an agenda for further debate, analysis and policy development. The GDGR will reflect on the HDR 2002 and build on the HDR 2011, raising the profile of democratic governance and helping to frame the debates for discussions at and after the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio +20), as well as contributing to the discussions surrounding the post-2015 development framework.
For UNDP, democratic governance is not synonymous with and limited to the concept of democracy. Democracy as a formal system of government is based on periodic elections and certain normative assumptions of civil and political freedom or rights. Democratic governance as a process of linking people to the state as well as non-state institutions of governance is driven by the notions of participation, representation, inclusion, responsiveness and effective service delivery based on the principles of entitlement and rights. Economic, social and cultural rights are equally important for effective democratic governance. Hence, democratic governance is a process that is progressively realized rather than based on only a periodic event or defined output and combining the ‘intrinsic’ as well as ‘instrumental’ aspects of human development.
Democratic governance means that people have a say in decisions that affect their lives and can hold decision-makers accountable, based on inclusive and fair rules, affirmation of human rights, institutions and practices that govern social interactions. Women are equal partners with men in private and public spheres of life and decision-making, and all people are free from discrimination based on race, ethnicity, class, gender or any other characteristic. Democratic governance feeds into economic and social policies that are responsive to people’s needs and aspirations, that aim at eradicating poverty and expanding the choices that people have in their lives, and also respect the needs of future generations. In essence, therefore, democratic governance is the process of creating and sustaining an environment for inclusive and responsive political processes and sustainable human development.
In sum, the idea of Democratic Governance has two intrinsically linked domains, those of Demos (People and/or Citizens) and Institutions and process. The report will analyze these interrelated domains in two interlinked dimensions of Legitimacy and Functional Performance.
- Legitimacy: It is the ‘consent’ of people, and of citizens with effective universal and equal rights (As a distinctive principle of liberal representative democracies) , through multiple forms of ‘legitimization’ exercises that makes the process of governance legitimate within a given context. Such exercises include, but are not limited to public hearings, town hall meetings, open forums, social audits, and/or electoral processes. Legitimacy of governance derives from a) Representation and Participation of People in Governance b) Inclusion of women, youth and the marginalised in governance and c) Voice of citizens/people and Accountability.
- Functional performance: While legitimacy is linked to the notion of consent of people and citizens as the legitimization condition for sustainable authority of the government, the institutional and process dimension of government rests on both, the government’s capacity/ capability as well as its effectiveness. Further, capacity and effectiveness are interlinked. The report will explore functional performance through the lenses of a) Institutional space/autonomy and capacity( Parliament, Judiciary, Executive, Election commissions, Human Rights Commission and Anti-corruption commission b) Human Rights and Rule of Law( to what extend principles and laws of human rights are practiced through Rule of Law and justice) c) Effective Access to Services( Education, Health, Water etc.).
The normative framework of human rights will inform the analysis.
The Report will draw on three sets of information:
a) Global data, HDR’s sources and data and other credible sources for latest info and data;
b) Regional barometers surveys;
c) Regional/sub-regional analysis and commissioned papers done by experts from respective regions in consultation with a multi-stakeholder reference group.
The report will include case studies from across the world to substantiate or illustrate the analysis. The case studies will be identified and developed by the DG Advisers at the Headquarters/ Regional Centres or based on regional reports.
Structure of the report:
The first chapter of the report will start by reflecting on the decade between the HDR 2002 and 2012 analyzing global shifts around the two 'defining trends' of increasing insecurities and inequalities, looking at the shifts in international power correlations and the diversity of governance systems and political cultures between and within regions. Presenting the definition of democratic governance here will be central to the report. The chapter will argue how democratization of governance involves a conscious effort to reduce multi-dimensional insecurity, inequality and injustice.
This chapter will establish the significance of Democratic Governance in a changing world, in relation to the new expectations of young people and citizens and new theoretical and conceptual insights. The various trends in Democratic Governance in the last ten years will be highlighted, particularly in relation to the increasing social, political and economic inequalities and consequent insecurities. This chapter will address factors affecting/influencing democratic governance, such as Citizenship and People, Inequalities and Identity, Formal and Informal, Globalization and National Politics, and others.
Contextualizing the report in the 'real world' will be accomplished using relevant data on (1) Increasing Insecurities (citizens insecurity, state and non-state actors violence, social and economic insecurities, environmental insecurities and climate change); and (2) Increasing Inequalities (political, social, economic, and cultural). These data will be presented and analyzed together with data from Barometers and relevant literature.
The second chapter on legitimacy will begin with a conceptual definition of democratic governance from the perspective of its intrinsic value. Legitimacy in relation to democratic governance will be further analyzed based on two sets of indicators: a) Representation and Participation (civic/political) and b) Accountability (social/political).
The third chapter on functional performance will begin with a conceptual definition of functional formal and informal institutions and procedures. The chapter will reflect on traditional formal institutions and their performance, and why they are in a difficult situation today, both in terms of legitimacy as well as performance. It will also focus on institutions and procedures, be they formal or informal, secular or non-secular, reflecting on their contributions or inhibitions for the functionality of democratic governance. Performance will be analyzed based on two sets of indicators: a) Human Rights and Access to Justice and b) Access to Services.
The final chapter will explore and demonstrate the link between Democratic Governance and Sustainable Human Development. Focusing on the environment and the Rio+20 agenda it will build on theoretical as well as evidence-based premises and make a convincing argument that underscores the importance of Democratic Governance for sustaining human development, as well as for the sustainability of human development for future generations.
Report production team:
This publication will be developed by the DGG Team with selected consultants and experts from the Regions (and eventually partner organizations). The process will seek inputs and active involvement from across UNDP’s bureaus at HQ, regional and country office levels, as well as from other agencies of the UN family. As such, the GDGR will be the product of national and regional consultations with social and economic actors, political officials and representatives, as well as independent opinion leaders, commissioned sub-regional papers and the analysis of various indicators in relation to legitimacy and functional performance of democratic governance.
In order to facilitate consultation and enable close cooperation between UN agencies and other relevant stakeholders, the following mechanisms are envisaged:
- Consultations Group (5-10 people), from relevant UNDP Bureaus at HQ, regional and country level in the DGG-Practice Architecture and under direction of DGG Director. It will play a major role especially at the inception phase, commenting on an annotated outline, identifying potential experts and authors, and nominating members of the Readers Group.
- UNDP Readers Group (10 – 20 people), made up of UNDP and non-UN experts on the subject matter, including a significant group of experts and practitioners from the Regions. Members of the Readers Group will be invited to provide pro-bono feedback on the various drafts of the publication.
- Team of Experts (exact number to be determined), renowned academics and practitioners who will participate in the 5 round tables. Some of them will be asked to write and present papers.
- Research Teams (each composed of a Project Coordinator and an Associate, an Academic Editor, two Senior Researchers and two-three Research Associates): covering the Europe-Latin America regions (from Bratislava Regional Centre), and Asia-Africa regions as well as specific topics (Oslo Governance Centre - OGC).
In addition to exchanges by email and phone with the above groups, it is expected to have a number of broader face-to-face meetings to facilitate a more dynamic discussion as well as to reach out to additional stakeholders. These consultative meetings would either be organized back-to-back with other events already taking place, at HQ and in a selected number of regions, or through UNDP’s Regional Centres. Sub-regional and regional round-tables will be specially organized (eventually with partner organizations) to discuss and produce the content of the publication.