April 1, 2018
  Governance Information Bulletin 2018:2 Subscribe | Unsubscribe



Andy Baker et.al. (DEC 2017)

This project summarizes the interdisciplinary literature on civil society in regimes that are backsliding away from democracy. The goal is to answer the following questions: 1. What enables civic and political participation in countries where civil liberties have been lost?; 2. How do forms of civic and political engagement in such contexts differ from forms of engagement in contexts in which civil liberties are protected?; and 3. Are some forms of civic and political engagement generally more tolerated in newly repressive contexts than others? How do civic actors adapt their engagement tactics to achieve their objectives? The authors identify five strategies that have worked in at least some instances to pry open civic space under backsliding regimes: 1. Alliance- and coalition-building with other domestic civil society groups, since larger groups have greater resources and can reach a larger audience; 2. Indirect resistance and actions, such as charity provision, artistic expression, and local-level political involvement, since strategies that do not overtly confront the regime are less threatened and can still provide a space for community involvement, expression, and problem-solving; 3. Non-violent contentious action, especially protest, which is more likely to be successful and have domestic and international appeal than violent action; 4. Creative and careful use of digital technologies, since much of digital communication is beyond the reach of the state; and 5. Maintaining organizational autonomy from the government and international actors, since co-optation by the regime and affiliation with international actors risk compromising a group’s message and goals.

Fragile States

Karina Mross (SSRN 2018)

This paper analyses international support to stability and democracy in Timor-Leste in order to gain a better understanding on which factors help to render such efforts effective in fragile contexts. Focusing on the form and organization of support, it assesses the impact of international support at three critical junctures: the 2007 elections, the crisis of internal displacement, and security sector reform. It finds that high levels of coordination generally helped to render external support effective, whereas low levels significantly hampered its success, as diverging approaches in the security sector show, in particular. Cooperative forms of support have been more successful, as illustrated by the very successful international facilitation of the government-led resolution of the internal displacement crisis. More coercive measures in the Security Sector Reform process provoked resistance and reduced the effectiveness of international support. Yet, the analysis also shows the limits of cooperative forms of support when framework conditions are unfavorable.

(UNDP 2018)

In countries affected by fragility and conflict, state institutions (i.e. public administration) co-exist among formal and informal arrangements that mirror ineffective power arrangements. These arrangements are products from protracted power struggles between elites struggling to remain in power and control the distribution of rents and resources. The challenges facing situations of fragility and violent conflict are daunting and multidimensional. The strengthening of weak public institutions to enable them to perform the core functions of government lies at the heart of the process to start restoration or reform. Indeed, the 2030 Agenda confirms that effective and legitimate institutions are central to provide a secure social, economic and political environment for the broader objectives of poverty reduction, sustaining peace and development. This note aims to provide practitioners with useful guidance and up to date knowledge as they deliver policy and program advice to national counterparts; and design and implement evidence-based programming to support countries in conflict-affected settings in restoring and/or reforming the civil service, which is indispensable for restoring or improving basic government functionality. The note does not aim to determine what should be done, when or for what types of governments; rather it lays out a series of priorities and concerns to keep in mind, based on UN learning from experience that will, it is hoped, enable more informed decision-making.

Angela Christie & Richard Burge (IDS 2017)

This paper explores the role and experience of external actors, particularly donors, in supporting social and political action in fragile, conflict and violence affected settings. Evidence is distilled from a wide range of synthesized sources to generate relevant findings and questions in relation to what we know and what we don’t. Included among the source material is a 2016 macro-evaluation of DFID’s empowerment and accountability (E&A) programs which examined over 50 DFID funded projects. Themes which emerge relate to: how external actors need to think about the context and work politically; who are the most appropriate social and political actors to support in E&A; whether a direct or indirect approach to support for E&A achieves more tangible outcomes; whether external actors should move beyond short-term tools and tactics focused on one-sided engagement; and whether programs should be designed around more strategic, multi-faceted interventions. The paper concludes with identifying a number of gaps in the evidence which are translated into a range of questions which could potentially inform the Action for Empowerment and Accountability (A4EA) research program.

Countering Violent Extremism

(United Nations/World Bank 2018)

The resurgence of violent conflict in recent years has caused immense human suffering, at enormous social and economic cost. Violent conflicts today have become complex and protracted, involving more non-state groups and regional and international actors, often linked to global challenges from climate change to transnational organized crime. It is increasingly recognized as an obstacle to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. This has given impetus for policy makers at all levels – from local to global – to focus on preventing violent conflict more effectively. Grounded in a shared commitment to this agenda, Pathways for Peace: Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflict is a joint United Nations and World Bank study that looks at how development processes can better interact with diplomacy and mediation, security and other tools to prevent conflict from becoming violent. To understand ‘what works,’ it reviews the experience of different countries and institutions to highlight elements that have contributed to peace. Central to these efforts is the need to address grievances around exclusion from access to power, opportunity and security. States hold the primary responsibility for prevention, but to be effective, civil society, the private sector, regional and international organizations must be involved. Enhancing the meaningful participation of women and youth in decision making, as well as long-term policies to address the aspirations of women and young people are fundamental to sustaining peace.

Marjoke Oosterom, (IDS 2018)

An interest in young people has gained significant traction in both policy and academic circles over the past ten years, partly informed by the correlations between ‘youth bulges’ and large numbers of unemployed youth and a country’s instability. United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security endorses a view of young people as contributors to peace, and is likely to prompt support for their participation in peacebuilding. While local governance might be an entry point for youth participation, little is documented about the specifics of young people’s participation in local governance in fragile and conflictaffected settings. Based on a review of existing literature, this paper discusses the ways in which youth engage in local governance processes through formal and informal mechanisms, and the politics and power dynamics that shape their engagement.


Stine Eckert et. al. (DEC 2017)

This report provides a multidisciplinary overview, assessment, and synthesis of current scholarship related to the question of what are the effective strategies for increasing women’s civic and political participation. The report is organized into three main sections: 1. What the scholarly literature says about how to understand the gender gap in women’s civic and political participation; 2. What the literature reveals about the effects—and possible risks—of various policies or strategies designed to increase women’s civic and political participation; and 3. What we know about how these strategies work in contexts of strong resistance to changing gender norms.

(UNDP/McKinsey & Co. 2017)

This publication explores the impact of parity within the civil service on public administration performance. The main finding to emerge from the paper is that there is a correlation between women’s equal participation in public administration and the improvement of certain basic services (sanitation, education, electricity and healthcare). While correlation does not necessarily mean causality, this is a significant finding that highlights the importance of women’s public service participation and leadership for improved development outcomes, including a more effective and responsive government. The research was led by UNDP and McKinsey & Company and builds on the landmark McKinsey report: The Power of Parity.

Magnus Ohman (IDEA 2018)

Women often have less access than men to the resources needed to successfully seek a party nomination or stand in an election, and political parties tend to nominate men to winnable positions. This report focuses on the particular political party regulations where the provision of public funding (state assistance) to political parties is linked to gender-related activities by those parties. Such provisions exist today in around 30 countries worldwide and it is a form of regulation that has become increasingly common in the past two decades. The report explores the concept of gender-targeted funding and its different modalities. Detailed case studies from Albania, Croatia, France, Haiti and Portugal illustrate experiences from different countries and the concluding chapter presents recommendations for countries considering using these methods to increase women’s political representation.

The Just Governance Group (IDEA & UN Women, 2017)

This exploratory study of constitutional jurisprudence on gender equality and women’s empowerment reveals a series of important findings regarding the current state of lived realities for women living under constitutions which purportedly provide for equality between men and women and prohibit discrimination based on gender. As is well-known, even the best drafted constitutions cannot change the lives of citizens by themselves. Numerous obstacles—including legislative and executive inertia or resistance to change, economic inequalities, social and cultural mores and imbalance of power in government and society—must be overcome before the words of the constitution become meaningful tools for societal change. However, from the range of cases selected in this study, there are several reasons to be optimistic about progress. Courts have shown themselves to be both progressive and strategic, willing to engage in social context and substantive equality analyses to arrive at decisions in line with the sprit, not just the letter, of the law. Further, the cases demonstrate a wide range of different constitutional provisions which have been referenced to improve women’s equity and agency, beyond non-discrimination and equality clauses.

Governance, Transparency and Accountability

Victoria Perotti, Catalina Uribe Burcher & Aida Zekic (IDEA 2018)

Organized crime networks dedicated to illicit trafficking of drugs, people and wildlife—as well as money laundering and cybercrime, among other activities—are engines of instability. This Discussion Paper, written from the perspective of a fictitious criminal network, depicts a scenario where conflict, democratic decline and new technologies exacerbate the negative impact of organized crime on the state. By describing an imaginary future, it includes the most relevant concerns for practitioners within the field.

Human Rights/Rule of Law

Elizabeth Heger Boyle et. al. (DEC 2017)

This literature review investigates the effects and effectiveness of human rights awareness campaigns. The authors differentiate carefully between effectiveness and effects. “Effectiveness” refers to the degree to which a campaign reaches its intended goal(s) among the target population. “Effects” encompass effectiveness, but also includes the broader set of consequences—unintended and unexpected, perhaps negative—that result from carrying out a campaign. Jointly authored by scholars from a range of disciplines, this report synthesizes scholarship bearing on these questions from diverse research traditions and assesses the interdisciplinary state of knowledge regarding the effects, both intended and unintended, of human rights awareness campaigns and the characteristics that make such awareness campaigns effective.

(ICJ 2018)

This compilation of international human rights standards relevant to Traditional and Customary Justice Systems is part of an ongoing project by the Internaitonal Commission of Jurists on the relationship between traditional and customary justice systems, including indigenous justice, and human rights, access to justice, and the rule of law. Among the sources included in the compilation are global and regional treaty provisions, UN and other declarations, and the jurisprudence and recommendations of Committees and Special Procedures established by treaties and the UN Human Rights Council. The sources are organized by themes including the rights of women, rights of children, the role of judges and lawyers and the administration of justice, the rights of indigenous peoples, and the rights of minorities.


Raymond H. Brescia (SSRN 2018)

With the rise of nativist policies throughout the world, the growing dangers posed by climate change and rising income inequality, and ever-increasing threats to the rule of law, many turn to what they consider to be the institutions of democracy to achieve desired policy goals. Indeed, if one seeks to address climate change, preserve the rule of law, and reduce income inequality, functioning institutions are needed to achieve such goals. But this institutional turn in law and policy presupposes a common understanding of institutions as well as an appreciation for the ways in which institutions may function to achieve such policy goals. This institutional turn should evoke the discipline of comparative institutional analysis, which asks which institutional setting — typically considered to be either the political process, the markets, or the courts — is the preferred one where one can achieve such goals. But this narrow view of institutional settings, and institutions themselves, leaves much to be desired, particularly where the scale and complexity of problems, and the policy goals one may have to address them, both grow. Indeed, this monolithic or one-dimensional view of institutions appears ill-equipped to address the scale and scope of the contemporary collective action problems the world faces. This Article is an attempt to develop an approach to comparative institutional analysis that recognizes the rich, multi-dimensional aspects of not only the problems institutions are asked to solve, but also the characteristics of institutions themselves. It offers a new approach to comparative institutional analysis, one that embraces a robust, and more realistic view of institutions. In turn, I hope to show that such an approach will offer a means of achieving more effective comparative institutional analysis in light of the growing scale and complexity of the problems the world faces at present, and will no doubt face well into the future.

Executive/Public Administration/Regulatory Agencies

Anuradha Joshi Rhiannon McCluskey (IDS 2018)

Despite the recent increase of empirical research and conceptual development in transparency and accountability, much of this has been on the side of citizen action, looking at why and how citizens mobilize around accountability demands and at what makes their actions successful. Comparatively, there has been much less work exploring the state side of the equation – to explain why and how public officials respond (or not) to citizen demands for accountability. There are a series of reasons why our understanding of responsiveness is limited, namely: the difficulty of clarifying which factors, among the multitude that shape bureaucratic behavior, are likely to dominate in certain contexts; the lack of resources and accessibility when conducting systematic research into bureaucracies and their responsiveness; the difficulty of separating capacity and willingness when looking at bureaucrats’ responsiveness. The aim of this research briefing is to highlight some of the more prominent issues related to bureaucratic responsiveness, particularly in relation to a ‘willingness to respond’. The authors review the relevant literature on public sector responsiveness, and use a set of interviews with ‘reformists’ within government to make three contributions. First, they present a simple framework for thinking about the conflicting pressures that public officials face in their work which shape how likely they are to respond to citizens’ demands. Second, the paper argues that the way that public officials see citizens and their claims (in terms of legitimacy, credibility and level of trust) directly influences their willingness to respond to citizen claims. Finally, the authors show that if and when public officials are willing to respond to citizens, they make use of their political and social capital to devise a series of strategies to mobilize responsiveness within the state through what we call bureaucraft: the art of maneuvering diplomatically within complex organizational and individual incentives that pervade state bureaucracies – in other words, the bureaucratic equivalent of statecraft.


Rosie McGee with Duncan Edwards, Colin Anderson, Hannah Hudson and Francesca Feruglio (IDS 2018)

Making All Voices Count was a program designed to solve the ‘grand challenge’ of creating more effective democratic governance and accountability around the world. Conceived in an era of optimism about the use of tech to open up government and allow more fluid communication between citizens and governments, it used funding from four donors to support the development and spread of innovative ideas for solving governance problems – many of them involving tools and platforms based on mobile phone and web technologies. Between 2013 and 2017, the program made grants for innovation and scaling projects that aimed to amplify the voices of citizens and enable governments to listen and respond. It also conducted research and issued research grants to explore the roles that technology can play in securing responsive, accountable government. The report draws on a synthesis of evidence from Making All Voices Count’s 120+ research, evidence and learning-focused publications, and the insights and knowledge that arose from the innovation, scaling and research projects funded through the program, and the related grant accompaniment activities. It shares 14 key messages on the roles technologies can play in enabling citizen voice and accountable and responsive governance. These messages are presented in four sections: (1) Applying technologies as technical fixes to solve service delivery problems; (2) Applying technologies to broader, systemic governance challenges; (3) Applying technologies to build the foundations of democratic and accountable governance systems; and (4) Applying technologies for the public ‘bad’. The research concludes that the tech optimism of the era in which the program was conceived can now be reappraised from the better-informed vantage point of hindsight.

Elections and Political Parties

(NDI, 2018)
NDI has revised its long-standing Win With Women political party assessment tool, including by adding guidance on measuring levels of and dealing with the violence that women members face within their parties. The No Party to Violence: Political Party Assessment includes survey, focus group and in-depth interview tools to be used with women and men in the leadership and membership of parties in order to develop action plans to root out the violence targeting women within their own political party. Over the last year, this new approach has been piloted with a number of the larger political parties and civil society in Côte d’Ivoire, Honduras, Tanzania and Tunisia. The outcomes from this piloting represent the first assessment of women party members’ experiences of violence within political parties, thus providing important new insights on the phenomenon, which has never been systematically studied previously. It offers a unique cross-country analysis of the current understandings and perceptions of men and women party members around the types, levels, and impact of violence against women within these institutions. This important information is being used to create party- and country-specific recommendations to improve awareness, action and accountability to end violence against women within political parties, thereby strengthening women’s membership and their roles on a basis of enhanced equality. The piloting process has also created a safe space for multi-party dialogue in ways which have not exposed any party to the political risk of negative commentary from the issue being aired in public and/or used by their competitors. This report provides a preliminary analysis of the topline findings from the surveys of men and women party members in the four countries. This briefing will be followed by an analysis of the accompanying focus group and in-depth interviews that were carried out as part of the No Party to Violence: Political Party Assessment pilots.


Politically Engaged Programming/Politically Adaptive Programming

David E. Guinn and Jeffery D. Straussman (Development Policy Review 2018)

Over the last few decades, international development (known as Official Development Assistance or ODA) has been under attack for its lack of effectiveness. Critiques reflect two conceptual challenges, the nature of expert knowledge and the centrality of local ownership of development initiatives, bounded by the practical constraint of how politically controlled resources from bi-lateral and international donors will be used. This article examines five implementation strategies, including their strengths and weakness, keyed to the level of control asserted by the donor agency. We illustrate our argument through a review of legislative strengthening projects most of which were funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID in the case of one of the models.

David E., Guinn and Jeffery D. Straussman, Public Management Review (2018)

The concept of “best practice” has few friends among both scholars and practitioners of international development. Indeed, if one follows the extensive writing on the subject, best practice appears to be fatally flawed. We believe that the wholesale rejection of best practice in development is incorrect. To reach this conclusion we first review the critique of best practice and describe its four main features. We analyze the critique through a qualitative case study of a fragile country using three donor funded projects that employ a best practice approach. We start this analysis by identifying the criteria used to select the case and its associated projects and then explain how the three projects related to public financial management (PFM) in Afghanistan funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) selected to satisfy those criteria. We then describe the specific projects and assess these projects based on the best practice critique. We end with a modest reassessment of the continued salience of best practice in international development.

Pilar Domingo and Deval Desai (ODI, 2018)

In May 2017, ODI and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) convened a workshop. It aimed to explore to what extent ‘experimental’ approaches feature in international support to rule of law and justice reform, and the risks and merits of such an approach. Experimentalism was taken to refer to approaches that are problem-focused, adaptive and iterative. In summary, rule of law and justice reform is integral to sustainable development, yet is complex and bound in social norms and political power. International support is becoming more ‘experimental’, but what makes for ‘effective experimentalism’ is under-documented, under-explored and under-systematised. To work in this way, five key capabilities are needed: 1. Embrace political complexity; 2. Take advantage of processes of system or norm change; 3. Take advantage of international normative changes; 4. Work across siloes; and 5. Look at how legal problems are framed. But reformers must continue to ask themselves: What counts as the problem? Who gets to define the problem? What counts as success, and who decides this? And how transparent, professionalized or politicized should experimental approaches be?

Measurement, Evaluation & Learning

Caroline Cassidy, Louise Ball (ODI 2018)

This toolkit provides a framework to think about communications monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL), and offers example questions, indicators and tools to do it. It is based on internal guidance that ODI developed to share with its staff to encourage learning, to improve the quality, reach and use of its communications, and to help with project and program planning. Communications MEL is still a work in progress at ODI. We are publishing this guide in the hope that it will be useful to others, but also that it will invite discussion and shared learning. This toolkit is intended for use by communications, research and project implementation staff working in think tanks, universities and NGOs.

Message from the Editor

SUNY/CID welcomes new and continuing readers to its Governance Information Bulletin (GIB) which highlights recent articles of interest for development practitioners and scholars in the area of democracy and governance. Areas of attention include: (1) development and international foreign aid, including strategies of democracy and governance assistance; (2) development and political institutions including legislative development; local governance and devolution; and public sector performance improvement and (3) program design, measurement and evaluation

In addition, all previous issues can be found at the SUNY/CID website here.

We welcome all questions, comments and suggestions at cidgib@albany.edu.

David E. Guinn

In This Issue

* Maintaining Civic Space in Backsliding Regimes

* Fostering Democracy and Stability in Timor-Leste After the 2006 Crisis. On the Benefits of Coordinated and Cooperative Forms of Support

* Supporting Civil Service Restoration and Reform in Fragile and Conflict-Affected Settings

* The Role of External Actors in Supporting Social and Political Action towards Empowerment and Accountability with a Focus on Fragile, Conflict- and Violence-Affected Settings

* Pathways for Peace : Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflict

* Youth Engagement in the Realm of Local Governance: Opportunities for Peace?

* Strengthening Women’s Civic and Political Participation: A Synthesis of the Scholarly Literature

* Gender Diversity in the State: A Development Accelerator?

* Gender-Targeted Public Funding For Political Parties: A Comparative Analysis

* Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: Constitutional Jurisprudence

* Imagining the Future of Crime and Politics

* Making Human Rights Campaigns Effective While Limiting Unintended Consequences; Lessons from Recent Research

* Traditional, Customary Justice Systems: Selected International Sources

* Understanding Institutions: A Multi-Dimensional Approach

* The Art of ‘Bureaucraft’: Why and How Bureaucrats Respond to Citizen Voice

* Appropriating technology for accountability: Messages from Making All Voices Count

* No Party To Violence: Analyzing Violence Against Women in Political Parties

* Implementing Legislative Strengthening Programs: Who is in Control?

* Is Best Practice in Development Still Viable? The Case of Financial Management in Fragile Afghanistan

* Experimentalism in International Support to Rule of Law and Justice

* Communications Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Toolkit

Center for International Development
Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy
State University of New York
99 Pine Street, 4th Floor
Albany, NY 12207

Anti-spam policy | Privacy policy
To ensure you receive our monthly newsletter, make sure you add cidgib@albany.edu to your address book. If you prefer not to receive future email from the Center for International Development, please UNSUBSCRIBE