October 12, 2010
  Governance Information Bulletin #16 Subscribe | Unsubscribe

Aid Strategy and Democracy Assistance

Benjamin Leo and Lulia Barmeier
In this working paper, Benjamin Leo and Lulia Barmeier of the Center for Global Development  provide quantitative evidence of the varied progress made by low income countries towards the Millennium Development Goals. The authors argue that meeting the MDGs is more difficult for some countries because of large-scale poverty and little socioeconomic capacity. They provide a Progress Index to measure movement toward the MDGs by 76 countries along eight core indicators of the sixty reported by the United Nations. Leo and Barmeier identify which countries are trailblazers and laggards among MDG countries and find that fragile and postconflict states have the lowest indicators. They also perform statistical analysis to determine the relationship between index scores and institutional performance, income, economic growth, and aid volumes. The authors find that only institutional performance is modestly significant.

Kent Eaton, Kai Kaiser, Paul Smoke
In this World Bank publication, Kent Eaton, Kai Kaiser, and Paul Smoke provide a framework for development professionals and partners to think about the relationship between political economy and decentralization reform. The authors argue that by systematically analyzing how political and institutional structures deliver services, the provision of technical assistance and decentralization reforms can be better designed and implemented. They suggest that understanding the incentives that motivate the behavior of politicians is essential to making institutional reform work, and that these incentives can be altered by the process of reform. Lastly, the authors remind readers that all decentralization programs must be tailored to the unique economic and institutional realities of individual countries.>>>

Ayah Mahgoub and Rita Perakis
In this new assessment instrument from the Center for Global Development, Ayah Mahgoub and Rita Perakis provide a new framework for measurement of the quality of ODA provided by different donors. They seek to answer questions about the comparative advantages of aid agencies, the transaction costs of different funders, and the strengths and weaknesses of aid donor organizations. The authors rank the quality of aid provided by 23 national development agencies for effectiveness across 30 categories in four pillars. Mahgoub and Perakis argue that this assessment tool is significant because of the wide range of sources it incorporates and its ability to be regularly updated with new data. The assessment also is the first to make determinations about aid quality using the perceptions of recipient countries.

Sonja Vermeulen and Lorenzo Cotula

In ‘Making the most of agricultural investment’, Sonja Vermeulen and Lorenzo Cotula of the International Institute of Environment and Development discusses alternative business models for restructuring agricultural investment. They illustrate how more inclusive business models include a variety of institutional arrangements that rely on close relationships between landholders and operators. No one model is a universal solution for investment structuring problems, but each has different pros and cons depending on the scale of economic organization. The authors also discuss how business models provide alternative ways of sharing value amongst participating stakeholders and describe criteria to assess value sharing.

Parliaments and Parliamentary Strengthening

United Nations Development Programme

This UNDP strategic document discusses the goals of its parliamentary development projects and how UNDP seeks to mainstream parliamentary strengthening as a development objective. It explores the themes and trends in contemporary parliamentary development and the emergence of norms and standards that shape how NGOs and parliamentarians think about legislative institutions. It also notes the importance of context in thinking about how reforms must be consistent with local political culture and sequenced to ensure success.  Further, the note discusses how parliamentary ownership of technical assistance can be encouraged to optimize foreign aid and encourage development. It also includes key strategic questions to be considered in designing a parliamentary development program as well as provides guidelines for project implementation, monitoring, and assessment.  >>>

United Nations Development Programme

In ‘Parliaments, Crisis Prevention and Recovery’, the UNDP offers a series of guidelines and good practices to guide the international community in its efforts to support the ability of parliaments to solve and recover from conflict.  Recommendations are made for the international community followed by successful examples in which parliaments in fragile states have been supported to promote peace and stability. These suggestions are meant to ensure that parliaments are always placed in the center of conflict resolution strategies by recognizing it as the representative institution for peaceful, national cooperation. >>>

Ingeborg Schwartz

In ‘Parlimentary human rights committees’, Ingeborg Schwartz writes on behalf of the National Democratic Institute about the functions of parliamentary human rights committees. The author describes the powers and mandates of human rights committees in various parliaments around the world and their relationships with other human rights organizations. She also reviews best practices for committees conducting human rights investigations and the initiatives and tools committees can use to create greater protections for human rights. Lastly, she concludes that committees with broad mandates to deal with human rights that reference global human rights conventions will be most effective.>>>

Brendan Whitty

In ‘Accountable lobbying of Parliament’, Brendan Whitty of One World Trust writes about how parliamentary lobbying should follow standards of accountability to ensure the defense of democratic norms and values in legislative practices. Based on research performed by the Public Administration Select Committee of the UK Parliament, he argues that all lobbying organizations (whether profit or non-profit) should disclose their clients, donors, and describe the scope and type of grassroots support. In addition, lobbyists should disclose and make available to the public all data used in making arguments to parliamentarians. Whitty also suggests an independent ombudsman can be created to handle formal complaints about violations of lobbying rules and practices. >>>

The Balkans

International Crisis Group
This report by the International Crisis Group discusses the political and financial crisis of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH), one of two sub-national entities comprising Bosnia and Herzegovina. The report argues that FBiH is on the verge of bankruptcy and continues to suffer from administrative tensions due to a highly decentralized governance structure that creates multiple unnecessary layers of administration. Party politics in the Federation shows little stability since the breakdown of preexisting dual party structure. Political goals in the Federation consist of winning spoils for supporters, and little organization takes place that furthers genuine public interests. The report concludes that changes must be made to the Federation which may spark a renewed interest in institutional reform at the state level of BiH.>>>


International Council on Security and Development (ICOS)

In this report, ICOS presents the results of interviews of Afghan civilians in central Helmand Province about their perceptions of NATO/ISAF operations in Marjah in March 2010. These interviews demonstrate that the Operation Moshtarak had failed to gain popular support among the Afghan people because it generated refugees who fled to other parts of Helmand. In failing to provide sufficient support for humanitarian aid and refugee relief, ISAF did not win the ‘hearts and minds’ of the people. However, it also demonstrates support for ISAF attempts to open the ring road linking Kandahar and Helmand. These findings demonstrate that while ISAF and the Afghan people share strategic ends, ISAF has yet to design operations that win public approval and local support. The report concludes by arguing that ISAF must treat Afghanistan as a ‘conflict eco-system’ and ensure that the positive impact of operations outweighs negative consequences experienced by the Afghan people.>>>

Latin America and the Caribbean

Christian Daude

In this OECD publication, Christian Daude explores economic productivity and development across Latin America and the Caribbean. He argues that countries in the region still experience lower GDP per capita compared to OECD countries. These slower rates of growth are due to weak total factor productivity, itself caused by socioeconomic institutions, the absorption capacity of human capital, and constraints of finance availability. Daude also examines regional performance along health indicators like life expectancy and their relationship to technological innovation and adaption. Finally, he finds that the causes of slow income growth may be different from country to country, yet slow innovation and low factor accumulation are both prominent causes.>>>

Louis-Alexandre Berg

In this brief, Louis-Alexandre Berg of the United States Institute of Peace reviews the relationships between politics and sociopolitical stability in Haiti. He finds that increasing crime in Port-au-Prince is the result of the escape of over 5,000 of prisoners from the National Penitentiary, some of whom retain access to hidden weapon caches. A new group called the Armee Federale has consolidated criminal activity among escapees across the city and in suburban areas. Increasing insecurity is compounded by the weak institutional and logistical infrastructure of the Haitian National Police and MINUSTAH.  The authors argue that the increase in crime is a result of the maintenance of militias and gangs by mainstream political actors who consolidate their own power by threatening instability.  They conclude by arguing that crime and security can only be brought to Haiti through long term institutional development of the police and job opportunities for impoverished Haitians.>>>

Message from the Editor

Below please find the sixteenth edition of SUNY/CID’s Governance Information Bulletin [GIB]. It draws attention to materials about technical matters involved in strengthening national, regional and local political institutions, as well as to broader issues of aid strategies, democracy assistance, government and public sector performance, and to developments in countries and regions where we are working. Each entry provides a link to a larger piece of research in the title and at the end of the entry.

Many thanks for your attention. We welcome all questions, comments and suggestions at gib@cid.suny.edu.  

In This Issue

Who Are The MDG Trailblazers?
The Political Economy of Decentralization  Reforms: Implications for Aid Effectiveness
Quality of Official Development Assistance (QuODA) Assessment
Making the most of agricultural investments
UNDP Parliamentary Strategy Note
Parliaments, Crisis Prevention, and Recovery
Parliamentarians and Local Politics in Afghanistan
Parliamentary human rights committees
Accountable lobbying  of Parliament
The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Operation Moshtarak: Lessons Learned
Innovation, Productivity, and Economic Development in Latin America and the Caribbean
Crime, Politics, and Violence in Post-Earthquake Haiti

Development and Governance Blogs

Africa Can…End Poverty is written by Shanta Devarajan, World Bank chief economist for Africa and discusses how African economic growth is lifting the continent out of poverty.

Dot Earth is a New York Times Blog by Andrew C. Revkin that looks at how the global growth of human population interacts with the ecological limits of the planet.

International Economic Law and Policy Blogcovers trade disputes and developments in international political economy.

Trade Diversion is a blog by Jonathan Dingel focusing on development, globalization, and trade.

The Custom-House discusses relationships between the United States and the world economy.

Social Edge is a blog that looks at how social entrepreneurs can empower each other to improve their world.

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