August 4, 2011
  Governance Information Bulletin #29 Subscribe | Unsubscribe

Aid and Governance Strategies

Noam Unger and John Norris
In this policy outlook paper, Noam Unger and John Norris of Brookings and the Center for American Progress discuss the prospective U.S. Global Development Council and its role in policy making. Although it was announced in last year’s Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development, the goals and structure of the Council have yet to be established by the White House. This paper offers a vision for its creation and suggests that the Council should aim to promote development policy coherence, act as a bridge between the public and private sectors, maintain a significant place for development policy discussions amidst economic and fiscal weakness, and continue to emphasize best practices. Finally, the paper offers different organizational models for the Council based on advisory bodies in support of other executive agencies.


Jonathan Di John
In this working paper, Jonathan Di John of the LSE’s Crisis States Research Centre writes about the relationship between taxation and state building. In particular, it examines how taxation policies emerge out of bargaining amongst political elites; how aid flows and multilateral donor reforms affect the incentives for state building and fiscal policy. Following its survey of the scholarly literature on taxation and state building, it cites the different policies and state building strategies of Zambia, Rwanda, Mozambique, Uganda, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, the Philippines, and Colombia. Finally, the paper reviews these countries’ experiences to show how taxation patterns indicate state capacity and reflect elite bargains, how aid flows affect the incentives and patterns of state building, and how taxation policy affects production strategies. >>>
Jenna Slotin, Vanessa Wyeth and Paul Romita
In this report for the International Peace Institute, Jenna Slotin, Vanessa Wyeth and Paul Romita review how international organizations conduct assessments of social and political conditions in relevant localities. They argue that the contradictory assumptions and objectives of agencies lead them to define problems and conduct assessments according their own institutional worldview rather than according to the conditions on the ground. They propose five factors to guide such assessments, such as clarity of purpose, timing and the timeframes of relevant agencies, their interests, incentives, skills and competencies, and the linkage between assessment and planning. Lastly, the authors recommend that agencies should strive to be more realistic about the assessment process, ensure that assessments are linked to a comprehensive planning cycle, and shift the focus from tools to the creation of a culture of analysis. 

International IDEA
This International IDEA publication explores how the process of writing and ratifying new constitutions contributes to conflict resolution and can be supported by external assistance. It argues that constitutions can function as crisis management tools for states plagued by conflict but are contingent upon a process designed by writers of national constitution. In this context, external actors supporting such processes should be conscious of the limits of their assistance and the implicitly political nature of their participation. Rather than focus on ‘entry points’ for intervention, the paper instead emphasizes ‘invitation points’ that privilege the autonomy of national actors and maintain a focus on recipient country ownership of assistance. Finally, external actors should be prepared to take up unexpected and limited roles especially if foreign support is treated with suspicion by national elites.    >>>

Richard Nielsen and Daniel Nielson
In this working paper, Richard Nielsen of Harvard University and Daniel Nielsen of Brigham Young University explore the effects of governance aid in the democratization of recipient countries. They begin by noting that aid in support of democracy may be offered for reasons other than the reform of political systems. In such a context, aid may only be offered to recipients who are already well positioned to enact democratization reforms. The authors test this hypothesis by comparing aid flows using the AidData information base against measures of democracy across developing countries. This time-series data analysis finds limited support that governance aid generally promotes democracy. But, it does support the authors’ initial hypothesis by confirming a relationship between states that are likely to democratize with higher levels of governance aid.


Elections, Parties, and Parliaments

Tuinese Edward Amuzu
In this report, Tuinese Edward Amuzu provides Rwanda’s MCC mission a review of best practices and procedures for managing parliamentary Legislative Drafting Units (LDUs). After describing Rwanda’s context , the report discusses the services provided by LDUs and their significance in increasing parliamentary independence and reducing reliability on the executive for information relevant to lawmaking. LDU best practices include the maintenance of integrity in the MP-Drafter relationship, quality of service, creating a service oriented environment, and a clear statement of services to be performed for parliament as well as sustained support for parliamentary leadership. Finally, the report concludes with a list of recommendations for Rwanda’s legislature that are also relevant to more general LDU support. >>>

Beatriz Magaloni
In this article for the American Journal of Political Science, Beatriz Magaloni of Stanford University writes about how opposition parties can overcome the advantages of authoritarian regimes in electoral contests. She argues that by maintaining unity and threatening mass civil disobedience, opposition groups can force autocrats to hold free elections and trigger splits among the state apparatus and the armed forces. Using game-theoretical models and case studies, Magaloni offers two modes of resistance for opposition groups, including top-down elite-driven opposition whereby parties unite prior to elections or voter-driven opposition whereby citizens spontaneously reject voter fraud practiced by the regime.  In addition, Magaloni shows how certain political contexts may lead autocrats to willingly refrain from voter fraud through the creation of an independent electoral commission.


Shane Martin
In this article for West European Politics, Shane Martin of Dublin City University explores the relationship between MP behavior and their need for reelection. In the context of electoral systems using proportional representation-single transferable vote, MPs must deal with the prospect of intraparty competition and may do so by maintaining personal relationships with constituents. Martin evaluates the effects of this context by surveying Irish MPs from 2002 and 2007. While he finds that a relationship does exist between personal vote cultivation and electoral success, higher levels of intra-party competition actually reduce rewards for voter cultivation.


Susan Hyde and Nikolay Marinov
In this working paper, Susan Hyde and Nikolay Marinov of Yale University explore the motivations that compel leaders to hold democratic elections and the conditions under which democracy becomes a self-reinforcing process. The authors show that in contexts where democracy is not institutionalized, leaders will only hold clean elections where information about their quality is available to the public. Open information thereby increases the negative incentives and consequences faced by autocratic leaders who may be considering electoral fraud. This model is evaluated using electoral data and the presence of election monitors. The authors show that election observation is more likely in low-information politics and can substitute for domestic streams of electoral information. >>>


Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU)
This AREU brief summarizes a roundtable discussion focusing on district councils and local governance in Afghanistan. In attendance were representatives from the Afghanistan Social Outreach Program, DFID, the EU, the Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission, and the NATO Senior Civilian Representative. In addition to describing the roles and functions of district governors within the Afghan governments, participants focused on the relative negligence of district governance by the international community, resulting in ineffective planning, service delivery, and representation. Participants also highlighted the importance of the devolution of governance as well as ensuring accountability at the district level.




International Crisis Group (ICG)
This ICG report covers social and political developments in Haiti up to late June 2011.  It proposes that, in the wake of last year’s contentious election processes, Haiti begin the process of national reconstruction focusing on resettlement and rebuilding national infrastructure. The failure to address these issues have resulted in the proliferation of refugee camps as well as the rise of criminal gangs and increased levels of violence. The report suggests the need to implement the government’s Action Plan for National Recovery and Development, and to empower the Interim Haitian Recovery Commission in order to accelerate project approval and coordination efforts. Key to these efforts is a resettlement policy that focuses more on building stable communities and less on rushing to close refugee camps.


Middle East

Tarek Masoud
In this article for the Journal of Democracy, Tarek Masoud of Harvard University reviews the historical and political circumstances that made the revolution in Egypt possible. He argues that the Egyptian movement had its roots in the Mubarak regime’s failures to address popular grievances and the emergence of activists and dissidents who slowly built their strength throughout the last decade. Masoud also discusses the new challenges facing Egypt, including transitional governance under each state’s military as well as the introduction of Islamist parties into open political competition. Finally, the author concludes with the economic difficulties faced by ordinary Egyptian people and the imperative of improving their quality of life within a democratizing system.



South Sudan

Jill Shankleman
In this special report, Jill Shankleman of the U.S. Institute of Peace examines the relationship between oil rents and state building in South Sudan. She argues that South Sudan will face declining oil production after 2015, which will necessitate new investment. Combined with South Sudan’s high dependence on oil rents, the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) should expect that its revenue will fluctuate highly and provide a relatively uncertain foundation for government revenue. On this basis, Shankleman suggests that the GoSS clarify its ownership over infrastructure assets it owns and the long-term prospects for the oil industry.  . Finally, the author argues that South Sudan should apply its oil revenues for development and join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative to ensure that the oil industry’s environmental and human rights performances can be audited against international standards.



Elliott Green

In this article for Studies in Comparative International Development, Elliott Green of the London School of Economics and Politics explores the relationship between economic and political reforms in the context of Ugandan decentralization. While the author presents multiple potential reasons for the proliferation of district-level governance, he illustrates how decentralization functions as a source of political patronage for the government of President Museveni. Although other patronage resources have previously been lost to reforms, the creation of new districts provides compensation to both the government and its clients. Further, the author suggests that similar decentralization processes may be spreading across Africa. >>>

Message from the Editor

Note: Back issues of the Governance Information Bulletin are now online.

SUNY/CID welcomes new and continuing readers to its Governance Information Bulletin (GIB) 29 which draws attention to technical matters involved in strengthening political institutions and to broader issues of aid strategies, democracy assistance, public sector performance, and to countries and regions where SUNY/CID is working.  Each entry provides a link to a larger piece of research in the title and at the end of the entry.

In this issue, please find recent reports, summaries, and publications on development by authors from The Brookings Institute, International IDEA, AREU, ICG, and other organizations and researchers. In addition, all previous issues can be found at the SUNY/CID website here.

We welcome all questions, comments and suggestions at  

In This Issue

* The U.S. Global Development Council: What Should It Look Like?

* Taxation, Resource Mobilisation and State Performance

* Power, Politics, and Change: How International Actors Assess Local Context

* Constitution building after conflict: External support to a sovereign process

* Triage for Democracy: Selection Effects in Governance Aid

* Best Practices and Procedures in Operating and Managing Legislative Drafting Units (LDUs) in Parliamen

*The Game of Electoral Fraud and the Ousting of Authoritarian Rule

* Electoral Rewards for Personal Vote Cultivation under PR-STV

* Information and Self-Enforcing Democracy: The Role of International Election Observation

* District Councils: The Missing Middle of Local Governance

* Post-quake Haiti: Security Depends on Resettlement and Development

* The Road To (and From) Liberation Square

* Oil and State Building in South Sudan

* Patronage, District Creation and Reform in Uganda

Development and Governance Blogs

The Cable at covers international affairs from the foreign policy establishment in Washington, D.C. Recent posts have highlighted tension between USAID and the State Department in Afghanistan, the contentious mark-up of the most recent foreign affairs authorization bill, and the Senate holds on the nomination of William Burns to be Deputy Secretary of State.

The World Bank’s Growth and Crisis Blog provides news, resources, tools, ideas and commentaries on issues related to the global economic crisis and growth.  Its recent posts have covered the effects of global warming on the poor in developing countries and South Sudan’s obstacles to regional trade.

OECD Insights covers important events and discussions about development among members of the international community. Recently, it has discussed the launch of the OECD’s Better Life Index and how mineral extraction in Africa can be practiced without fueling conflict.

OThe Development Policy Centre’s Development Policy Blog explores new issues and ideas emerging amongst development professionals.  These include the effects of economic growth on alleviating poverty as well as the need for aid flow transparency.

The First Tranche explores how development finance research can be used to improve development practices and research. Examples include the use of aid information to identify how much aid is diverted through corruption and mismanagement as well as the recent release of a Chinese white paper on development.

Duncan Green’s From Poverty to Power is a conversational blog intended to foster debate, reflection, and conversations about development. Recently, it has covered Oxfam reports about resource scarcity and the drivers of ‘autonomous development’ in developing countries.

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