Dec. 8, 2011
  Governance Information Bulletin #32 Subscribe | Unsubscribe

Aid and Governance Strategies

Connie Veillette
In this report, Connie Veillette of the Center for Global Development examines the Obama administration’s commitment to aid reform, probable congressional responses, and recommendations for achieving reforms. Veillette reviews progress in the following seven reform elements: increasing development funding, strengthening USAID through internal reforms, prioritizing aid by country and sector initiatives, budgeting for science/technology/innovation investments, enhanced multilateralism, improving country ownership, and monitoring and evaluation. Finally, the author concludes by noting that such aid reforms would be maximally effective if accompanied by new policies favoring developing countries related to trade, migration, and diplomacy.


David Booth
In this working paper, David Booth of the Overseas Development Institute questions the underlying assumptions of the 2005 Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness. Booth argues that donor countries have presupposed that recipient country leaderships were already oriented toward development.  Instead, he illustrates how that assumption is often false and explores efforts to support the emergence of political leadership that is oriented towards development. He proposes that, in order to increase aid effectiveness, donor countries reform their non-aid policies that affect the economic and political systems of recipient countries and leverage their resources to solve collection action problemsthat create institutional obstacles to development faced by political leaders of recipient countries.

Gesellschaft fur InternationaleZusammenarbeit (GIZ)
In this handbook, the German Society for International Cooperation, or GIZ, offers a detailed discussion of how "iTax" can improve developing countries’ revenue base and increase state capacity. As an integrated system that allows for the administration of all taxes on national and local levels, iTAX has been implemented in both Tanzania and the Philippines. The handbook shows how an iTAX system can simplify tax management, function in a cost effective manner, be customized to meet unique needs of a country, handle large case numbers, and improve overall tax administration effectiveness. Given these advancements, the handbook argues that iTAX can successfully increase tax revenue and offer new opportunities for local capacity development. >>>
Michael Johnston
In "First, Do No Harm," Michael Johnson argues that most familiar anti-corruption strategies require sound state, social, and political institutions, and a minimal level of trust, both in government and among citizens. Yet in the absence of institutional trust, development practitioners should be aware of the possibilities and risks of reform in fragile situations and of the potential benefits of halfway reform outcomes. The first priority – "do no harm" – means avoiding steps that overwhelm a society’s capacity to absorb aid and put it to effective use that risk pushing fragile situations and societies into more disruptive kinds of corruption. The second imperative – build trust – is essential if complex collective-action problems are to be minimized, and if reform is to draw broad-based support. Thus, the best ways to demonstrate and assess anti-corruption progress is to examine kinds of behavior, in civil society as well as in politics and the economy, that reflect improving climates of expectations and trust.


Elections, Parties, and Parliaments

Jutta Marx and Jutta Borner
In this report written for the International Parliamentary Union, Jutta Marx and Jutta Borner of International IDEA investigate the efforts of women MPs in Latin American parliaments to bring a gendered perspective to legislative work.  Based on survey questionnaires and interviews with MPs, the authors find that progress has been made with improved quota legislation and the establishment of gender committees and caucuses. Yet, women are still under-represented in leadership positions, MPs experience difficulty balancing work and family and life, and parliaments still lack formal rules to promote gender equality. On this basis, the report concludes with a call for educating the public to perceive gender equality as a societal goal of deep and lasting value.   >>>

J.H. Snider
In this working paper, J.H. Snider of Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Policy explores legislative control of parliamentary information systems. Snider has argued that elected officials have a conflict of interest in using new information technologies to enhance democratic accountability when that might conflict with their own re-election interests. This paper looks at the online accessibility of roll call votes by legislator in 126 legislative branches: the 2 branches of Congress, the 99 branches in the 50 U.S. states, and the 25 branches (city councils) in the 25 largest U.S. cities. It concludes that legislators have a conflict of interest and act on it in making roll call votes inaccessible. Moreover, this particular conflict of interest is merely the tip of the iceberg of a greater incentive problem elected officials have in designing legislative information systems to make themselves more democratically accountable. The paper concludes with a vision and set of policy recommendations for Information Age legislative information systems.


Gurprit S. Kindra and Fredrick Stapenhurst
In "Empowering Parliaments with Strategic Communications," Gurprit S. Kindra and Fredrick Stapenhurst argue that a strategic communications approach can enable parliaments to build stronger relationships between citizens and MPs. They argue that open communicative relationships provide a form of public education, consultation, consensus-building, legitimization, conflict resolution, representation, and scrutiny. Further, new information communications technologies (ICT) and social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter can be leveraged to create these relationships and ensure that multiple channels exist between citizens and parliaments. Parliamentarians and their staff will benefit from a better understanding of the societal contexts of communication modalities and expanding their repertoire of skills in effective spoken, written, visual and interactive communication. That is, parliamentarians need to be familiar with the fundamentals of drafting a strategic communications plan that will help them to fulfill their responsibility to engage the public in the democratic process. >>>

Jean-Benoit Pilet and Damien Bol
In this research paper, Hean-Benoit Pilet and Damien Bol explore alternative explanations of how political parties define preferences for electoral reform. While traditional explanations suggest that party preferences for reform are determined by their perceived gains from reform and the balance of power between and within parties, the authors argue that the risks and uncertainties associated with reform prevent parties from supporting changes that would result in net gains. Through an analysis of the preferences of 84 parties in 13 different electoral reform debates, it shows that risk impedes parties from supporting
even advantageous change. However, all parties are not sensitive to such risks, particularly those parties which already are dissatisfied with the existing electoral system. The authors conclude that these parties will see reform as a worthwhile enterprise despite the potential risks.



Thomas Ruttig, Martine van Bijlert, and Sari Kuovo
This discussion paper written by the director and co-directors of the Afghanistan Analysts Network discusses the challenges for transition in Afghanistan and the cost of a hasty and unconditioned international withdrawal. It particularly focuses on security, the economy, governance and politics, human rights, and regional politics. The report emphasizes that stabilizing and rebuilding Afghanistan is a goal with no quick fixes as solutions in one field may cause disruptions in others. Continued international engagement in Afghanistan should focus on supporting the Afghan government in addressing the conflict’s root causes and ensuring that such support does not unintentionally entrench patterns of conflict and power imbalances.   >>>


K.M. Mahiuddin
In this doctoral dissertation, K.M. Mahiuddin of the University of Heidelberg analyzes the functions and role of the parliamentary committees in the post-1990 Bangladesh parliament. By applying historical and descriptive methodologies, the author illustrates the institutional contexts of parliamentary committees and examines the proceedings, reports, and rules of procedures employed by committees. He finds that Bangladesh’s parliamentary committees tended to oversee government activities rather than analyze policy issues and were rendered dysfunctional by party polarization. Nonetheless, he concludes that committee participation provided legislators with opportunities to learn parliamentary norms and improve procedural knowledge.



Matthew S. Erie
In this article published in the Journal of Legal Education, Matthew S. Erie of Cornell University reviews how legal education in China has been shaped by transplanting U.S. legal norms and procedures and their effects on advancing Chinese legal modernization and adherence to the rule of law. Based on a case study of Tsinghua University Law School, Erie examines the Juris Master degree by the Chinese Ministry of Justice and the evolution of pedagogies of individual law instructors and professors. His ethnographic approach takes the perspective of law students and finds that transplanting exogenous legal institutions will not be enough to build rule of law, as it must be functionally demanded by domestic political and institutional actors. 



Danyel Reiche
In this article published in Third World Quarterly, Danyel Reiche of American University in Beirut explores how sport in Lebanon reflects the fragmented nature of Lebanese civil society. Reiche shows how professional football and basketball is organized along sectarian lines of patron-client relations where political leaders finance clubs and expect complete loyalty from teams. Because confessional modes of political organization are so dominant in Lebanon, its sport sector cannot unite civil society around a single national identity but instead remains beholden to competition between different sects. On this basis, Reiche concludes that institutional steps toward a secular state are needed to transform confessional subsystems such as media, schools, and sports clubs toward non-sectarian forms of organization.


South Caucasus

Nicole Gallina

In this article published in the Caucasian Review of International Affairs, Nicole Gallina of the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, explores how state weakness has inhibited democratization in Armenia and Georgia. Gallina argues that rebuilding state authority following the collapse of the Soviet Union led to attempts to maintain the elite status quo despite escalating ethnopolitical conflict. The author shows how these two trends were incompatible as elites fragmented along ethnic lines in competition for state control and blocked the development of democratic state institutions. Because leaders ethnic leaders sought to maintain their power through informal patronage networks, state institutions were never fully consolidated.



Jesse McConnell
In this working paper, Jesse McConnell of the European University Institute explores the challenge of institution building in Africa within states that lack coherent singular national identities. Because of the governance challenges posed by sub-national identities, McConnell suggests a decentralized and localized approach to institution building pioneered in Rwanda known as Imihigo. He argues that by focusing more on local service delivery rather than formal institutions, Imihigo has helped to promote a new national identity and a culture of accountability among public servants and political leadership. Finally, he concludes by arguing that this approach might also be use in other sub-Saharan African countries.


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) 32 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 development professionals from the Center for Global Development, the Overseas Development Institute, the World Bank, 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 Future of U.S. Aid Reform: Rhetoric, Reality, and Recommendations

* Aid effectiveness: bringing country ownership (and politics) back in

* Benefits of a Computerized Integrated System for Taxation: iTax Case Study

* First, Do No Harm – Then, Build Trust: Anti-Corruption Strategies in Fragile Situations

* Gender mainstreaming in Latin American Parliaments: A work in progress

* Would You Ask Turkeys to Mandate Thanksgiving? The Dismal Politics of Legislative Transparency

* Empowering Parliaments with Strategic Communications

* Party Preferences and Electoral Reform: How Time in Government Affects the Likelihood of Supporting Electoral Change

* The International Community’s Engagement in Afghanistan beyond 2014

* The Parliamentary Committee System in Bangladesh: An Analysis of its Functioning

* Legal Education Reform in China Through U.S.-Inspired Transplants

* War Minus the Shooting? The politics of sport in Lebanon as a unique case in comparative politics

* Puzzles of State Transformation: The Cases of Armenia and Georgia

* Institution (UN) Building: Decentralising Government and the Case of Rwanda

Development and Governance Blogs

Nancy Birdsall at the Center for Global Development’s Views from the Center blog recaps the Busan 4th High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness and notes the creation of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation.

Albert van Zyl at the International Budget Partnership’s Open Budgets Blog is mostly disappointed by the Busan Forum but notes that it highlights the importance of country ownership and the role of civil society organizations in fostering development.

Josh Rogin at Foreign Policy’s The Cable blog discusses Secretary Clinton’s formation of the Foreign Affairs Policy Board, a panel of outside experts who will provide advice on top priorities of the State Department.

INigel Roberts at the World Bank’s Conflict and Development blog reflects on what he has learned about modern conflict from writing the World Development Report.

Leah Stern writes on the Innovations for Poverty Action blog about our current understanding of microfinance and recent assessments of its successes and failures.

The National Endowment for Democracy’s Democracy Digest blog explores the weakening of Vladimir Putin’s control over the Russian political system following his party’s lackluster election performance.

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