July 11, 2012
  Governance Information Bulletin #35 Subscribe | Unsubscribe

Governance and Aid Strategies

Ajoy Datta, Louise Shaxson, and Arnaldo Pellini
In this working paper for the Overseas Development Institute, Ajoy Datta, Louise Shaxson, and Arnaldo Pellini explore how local organizations and institutions can build their capacity to use knowledge and improve their policies and practices. The paper addresses the nature of capacity development, different approaches to capacity building, and the implications for funding practices. The authors argue that consultants should focus their activities both on the capacities needed to produce technical results and on capacities needed to build more effective and dynamic relationships between different actors within an organization. Further, they argue that funders investing in effective capacity development must appreciate the “multidimensional nature” of governmental capacity and that simply providing project inputs in the form of standard training modules alone is not a sufficient cause of improved institutional performance. >>>

Louise Anten, Ivan Briscoe and Marco Mezzera
In this paper, Louse Anten, Ivan Briscoe, and Marco Mezzera of the Netherlands Institute of International Relations discuss how political economy considerations weaken state institutions and slow economic development. Based on the findings of a recent fragile states case study, the authors argue that incentives created by informal institutional practices play a crucial role in the outcome of efforts to strengthen economic growth and government efficiency. They further argue that the political marketplace of incentives and relationships is essential to determining the trajectory of fragile states because greater electoral competition, institutional complexity, the entry of new players and sources of funding will drive new conflicts. Donors must be cognizant of power structures, interests, and incentives that may undermine new formal governance arrangements to achieve their development objectives. >>>
Mick Moore
In "The Governance Agenda in Long Term Perspective," Mick Moore of the Institute for Development Studies argues that the post-Cold War governance agenda is losing credibility because of its association with Western ideas and experiences that are no longer the dominant development paradigm. Moore shows how globalization does not necessarily lead states to become more like each other or converge around "Western" models of liberal democracy and market capitalism. As globalization pushes states toward competition, states have diverged politically as they seek alternative sources of revenue. Because these new revenue sources are not grounded in a social contract between states and citizens, they have significant implications for governmental accountability.   >>>
In this publication by UNICEF, a series of authors across the UN system aim to stimulate the international debate on how the performance of evaluation can contribute to achieving equitable development results by conceptualizing, designing, implementing, and using evaluations focused on human rights and equity. These insights into the performance of evaluation draw upon multiple fields and methodologies, including system dynamics and complexity theory. The authors begin by presenting the relationship between human rights and dignity, and then focus on the methodological implications in the design and execution of equity-focused evaluations. Finally, it presents several examples of such evaluations to illustrate best practices and lessons learned. >>>

Elections, Parties, and Parliaments

Michael L. Mezey
In this CAP Note, SUNY/CID Senior Fellow Michael Mezey of DePaul University explores the complex relationship between representatives and their constituents from normative, empirical, and cross-national perspectives. Among the issues considered are the extent to which representatives are obligated to take into consideration the opinions of their constituents as they make public policy decisions, and the potential tension between the representative’s obligations to constituency interests and to the national interest. Empirically, the difficulties that representatives encounter as they seek to determine the views of their constituents are considered as well as his or her efforts to shape constituency opinion. The service activities of legislators and their efforts to deliver public resources to their constituents are explored from a comparative perspective. Cross-national variation in the manner in which legislators perform their various representational roles is traced to variations in electoral and party systems. Finally, lessons for legislative development are identified with particular emphasis on the tension between the representational activities of legislators and their capacity to both build public support for the institution and make effective public policy. >>>

Avery Davis-Roberts and David J. Carroll
In "Using International Law to Assess Elections," Avery Davis-Roberts and David J. Carroll of the OECD provide an overview of the existing obligations for democratic elections in Public International Law (PIL) and connect these obligations to criteria for assessing electoral processes. Davis-Roberts and Carroll maintain that PIL lays a foundation for election observation with greater transparency, objectivity, and has greater authority with host countries because it depends on states’ acknowledged international legal commitments to each other and to international organizations. Further, they assert that a PIL approach produces a basis for building broad consensus on what constitutes "international standards for democratic elections". >>>

Greg Power and Oliver Coleman
In "The Challenges of Political Programming," Greg Power and Oliver Coleman of Global Partners and Associates examine how different donor agencies and implementing organizations are addressing the challenges of assisting political parties and legislatures. By "political programming," the authors refer to recent attempts by donor agencies to apply more political forms of analysis (such as "drivers of change") in the design, delivery and implementation of projects. Rather than solely relying on technical assistance, these approaches engage with political incentives and existing structures to achieve desired outcomes. The authors draw on interviews with staff from agencies and implementing partners as well as a number of independent consultants working on party and legislative strengthening projects. It also includes an analysis of strategy papers and planning documents from a variety of organizations and an in-depth examination of political programs with parties and parliaments in four countries. >>>

Filimon Peonidis
In "Bringing Direct Democracy in a Representative Assembly," Flimon Peonidis of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki articulates a model of legislative elections that increases the level of direct democracy within parliamentary institutions. Based on the assumption that representative democracy undermines popular sovereignty, he argues that a select number of MPs within parliament should be allotted among a list of citizens without political party affiliations who volunteer to act as citizen representatives and compete in elections for these seats. This method of election ensures that some MPs within a parliamentary body will not succumb to the rigors of party politics. >>>


Paul Fishstein and Andrew Wilder
In this paper, Paul Fishstein and Andrew Wilder of the Feinstein International Center at Tufts University illustrate how national security agendas have influenced foreign assistance implementation in Afghanistan. Although development projects have been incorporated into the counterinsurgency and stabilization strategies of the United States in Afghanistan, the authors argue that these projects are not effective in winning the hearts and minds of the Afghan people. Due to government corruption and the inefficient use of aid resources, Afghans have negative perceptions of the purposes and outcomes of aid assistance efforts. Based on these findings, the authors argue that foreign assistance policy and implementation should address the political drivers of conflict as opposed to enacting traditional socioeconomic interventions. >>>


International Crisis Group
This International Crisis Group (ICG) report states that Burundi is facing a worsening corruption crisis leading to threatened stability that is based on development and economic growth supported by the state and foreign investment. Although Burundi’s national strategy for good governance includes all the necessary technical ingredients to fight corruption, ICG argues that it lacks a clear political agenda. Without such political will, the country’s anti-corruption efforts are not expected to be successful. To alleviate this challenge, ICG recommends that civil society organizations should work together to mobilize the private sector, rural organizations and universities to conduct independent citizens’ surveys and assessments to scrutinize the government’s anti-corruption performance. Donors should also prioritize the fight against corruption and reconsider their engagement if governance does not improve. >>>


Khaled Elgindy
In this report for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Khaled Elgindy discusses the new phase of Egypt’s troubled transition and the formation of the country’s first post-revolutionary parliament in late January 2012. Elgindy argues that Egypt’s transition to parliamentary democracy is imperiled by an ever-present threat of popular unrest , an economy teetering dangerously close to collapse, and heavy interference in the political process by the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. While the Parliament currently reflects the popular strength of the once-banned Muslim Brotherhood, the youth movement that has dominated Tahrir Square remains underrepresented. Parliamentary politics alone may not be enough to reverse the damage done over the previous year or quell the revolutionary fervor simmering just beneath the surface of Egyptian politics. >>>


Danielle Resnick
In this article, Danielle Resnick of United Nations University argues that Malawi’s relationship with the donor community has proved erratic and contentious. The author argues that this trend has important implications for the consolidation of the country’s nascent democracy. Inconsistency across program cycles, the concentration of funding around elections, and a reluctance to support political parties hinders the size of democracy aid’s long-term impact. Development aid, particularly general budget support, has tended to further sideline the role of parliament and indirectly has provided the incumbent party with an electoral advantage through support for the country’s fertilizer input subsidy program. To prevent an erosion of democracy caused by violations of civil liberties, donors often have threatened to withhold aid to Malawi. Yet, they frequently only proceed with these threats when concurrent concerns exist over economic governance, including corruption and management of the exchange rate.



Douglas Karekona Singiza and Jaap de Visser

In "Chewing More Than One Can Swallow," Douglas Karekona Singiza and Jaap de Visser of the University of West Cape Town discuss Uganda’s promotion of grassroots democracy and participatory development. Uganda’s decentralization initiative has made districts the basic unit of local government to enable greater public participation in government service delivery. However, Singiza and de Visser argue that enacting these new institutions may not be economically viable and that creating too many districts may disrupt the political development of local governance. They conclude with a proposal for the establishment of an independent boundary demarcation body that should be responsible for drawing district boundaries. >>>

Message from the Editor

SUNY/CID welcomes new and continuing readers to its Governance Information Bulletin (GIB) 35 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 Overseas Development Institute, the The Netherlands Institute of International Relations, UNICEF, and other organizations and universities. In addition, all previous issues can be found at the SUNY/CID website here.

We welcome all questions, comments and suggestions at gib@cid.suny.edu.

In This Issue

* Capacity, Complexity, and Consulting: Lessons from Managing Capacity Development Projects

* The Political Economy of State-building in Situations of Fragility and Conflict: from Analysis to Strategy

* The Governance Agenda in Long Term Perspective: Globalisation, Revenues and the Differentiation of States

* Evaluation for Equitable Development Results

* Representation and Constituency Relations

* Using International Law to Assess Elections

* The Challenges of Political Programming: International Assistance Parties and Parliaments

* Bringing Direct Democracy in a Representative Assembly: The Case of Allotted MPs

*Winning Hearts and Minds? Examining the Relationship between Aid and Security in Afghanistan

* Burundi: A Deepening Corruption Crisis

* Egypt’s Troubled Transition: Elections without Democracy

* Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: The Limits of Foreign Aid on Malawi’s Democratic Consolidation

* Chewing More Than One Can Swallow: The Creation of New Districts in Uganda

Development and Governance Blogs

David Bosco at the Multilateralist blog provides several perspectives lauding praise and criticism on the International Criminal Court’s Tenth Anniversary.

Foreign Policy’s The Cable reports on the internal evaluation that led to the resignation of Scott Gration, former U.S. Ambassador to Kenya.

The World Bank’s Governance for Development blog discusses the Bank’s four objectives in promoting rule of law and governance reform.

New York University’s Development Research Institute profiles Good African Coffee CEO Andrew Rugasira and the importance of trust in fostering economic development.

Freedom House summarizes its "Freedom of the Press 2011-2012" report and finds that press freedoms in the Middle East have advanced in the wake of the Arab Spring.

The International Budget Partnership’s Open Budgets Blog discusses its recent research showing that budget transparency produces favorable credit ratings , and reduces the borrowing costs for governments.

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