April 1, 2020
  Governance Information Bulletin 2020:2 Subscribe | Unsubscribe


Fragile States

Mariz Tadros (IDS, 2020)

There has been growing concern about the challenges faced by donors and development organizations working in contexts that are increasingly fragile, highly volatile and insecure. In such conditions, the first instinct of many external development actors might be to simply withdraw their staff, funding, or operations from the area. But such a strategy could result in vital support not being provided for empowerment and accountability activities, precisely when local stakeholders say they need it most. If Western donors choose to continue to support local actors in their work on empowerment and accountability, working under the radar is an approach which external actors and local partners should consider in order to adapt to the exigencies of fragile contexts. This brief presents eleven key messages about how to work in contexts with deeply circumscribed spaces. It draws on the experiences and insights of the Action for Empowerment and Accountability (A4EA) program, gained from supporting local partners in Egypt, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nigeria and Pakistan.


Conflict affects women and men differently, and it can alter women’s economic and political roles in society. However, changes in women’s economic and political status and roles during times of conflict do not necessarily lead to long-lasting shifts. This collection of ESRC-DFID-funded research explores social norms, economic empowerment and women’s political participation in fragile and conflict-affected states, including Jordan, Pakistan and Somaliland.


Nicholas Ross with Mareike Schomerus (ODI 2020)

Set against a global context of rising violent conflict and the changing nature of conflict driven by a broad range of factors, including a wider spectrum of involved parties, this report considers lessons drawn from key literature on recent peace processes and multilateral settlements, and international donor support to such mechanisms. Key lessons: (1) Multipolarity matters: Process design should acknowledge multiple vested interests across the full range of locally, regionally and internationally involved actors. Without doing so, it risks fomenting resurgent instability and undermining the legitimacy of post-accord states. International mediators must cooperate to prevent ‘forum shopping’. (2) Processes must consider sequencing, flexibility and inclusivity: Trade-offs are necessary in establishing which issues will be brought to the negotiating table, the order in which key issues are considered during negotiations and the extent to which donors are willing to support effective compromise. Whilst ensuring that armed groups are represented in dispute resolution mechanisms, criteria for invitation must be sensitive to the need for outcomes to bear legitimacy. (3) Continued support in implementation: Donor support is crucial in the time following the agreement of a peace accord. The first five years post-accord are definitive; a lack of international support to weaker states can strip away state capacity to uphold an accord, and policy positions agreed through compromise risk being weakened and non-productive. Whilst donors and international financial institutions are shifting to more conflict-sensitive approaches, finance flows in support of peace-building remain proportionally small worldwide.

Kazeem Lamidi (SSRN 2020)

Peace building has undergone series of changes across the globe, most times with special interest on the third world countries. Therefore, the intent of this paper is to conceptualize the peace building architecture with insights from empirical works in the third world countries; examine the trajectory of peace building with examples across cultures; and explicate the rationale behind its imperativeness within local communities in the third world countries. The quest for peace building in developing countries remains a requisite action because interactions among the people, groups and communities are, more often, flawed by numerous social vices. Hence, the imperativeness of peace building becomes thus essential so as to establish resolution strategies, thereby thwarting the menace of vengeance in the societies.

(UNDP Feb 27, 2020)

​This Guidance Note seeks to clarify the social cohesion conceptual framework and provide knowledge and practical guidance in assessing and designing effective programs and projects - identifying challenges, risks and dilemmas and implications for programming. It explores ways in which social cohesion assessments methodologies and measurements can be developed and adapted for different settings. Theories of change in social cohesion programming are explored and critically assessed and practical considerations are offered to guide more impactful, more integrated policy and programming at different levels of engagement.

N-Peace (UNDP, Canada, N-Peace, Nov 22, 2019)

In 2018, the N-PEACE initiative launched the civil society small grants component to strengthen civil society action in some of the most remote and isolated peacebuilding contexts in the above countries. The pilot awarded small grants to 21 civil society organizations which resulted in approximately 8,474 direct beneficiaries. This inaugural publication chronicles how women and gender activists from N-Peace are using social innovation to respond to ongoing conflict and peacebuilding contexts, whilst rising to address emerging conflict concerns. Touching on all four key components of N-Peace, their work is fortifying gender equality from grassroots to international levels.

William Avis, Helpdesk Report (IDS March 2020)

This rapid literature review collates evidence from academic and grey literature on support on inclusive peace processes. The review identified limited evidence based on robust evaluations, there is, however, a wide range of reviews (principally case studies) of peace processes and national dialogues that have been collected and collated to distil lessons on what works and why. These have predominantly been collated by organizations such as the Inclusive Peace and Transitions Initiative, Conciliation Resources and the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue. Lesson learning has played an important role in advancing the way peace processes are designed, negotiated and implemented. Although no two conflicts are alike, there are a number of lessons and practices that authors suggest can be transferred from one context to another. Commentators highlight that when doing so it is important to understand the differences and similarities between conflicts and peace processes in order to draw pertinent lessons from those with similar dynamics. A recurring theme in the literature is the belief that after periods of conflict, the design, negotiation and implementation of inclusive peace processes is a means of strengthening a society’s ability to avoid a relapse into armed violence. Central to this is the need for peace processes to be inclusive, this refers to both the inclusion of the main parties to the conflict, but also the inclusion of groups that have historically been excluded from peace processes e.g. civil society or women, etc. Key messages identified include: 1. Quality, not just quantity is important: When included actors were able to influence the quality of agreements, and/or the implementation of these issues, the rate of peace agreements being reached and implemented was higher. 2. Broader inclusion is important: Contrary to assumptions made by many mediators, broader inclusion is not thought to reduce the likelihood of reaching agreements. This is often associated with conflict parties and mediators pushing for broader inclusion to gain legitimacy and public buy-in. 3. It is important to consider the modalities of inclusion: Inclusion takes place through different modalities at the table but also prior to and in parallel to official negotiations, and during implementation. 4. Implementation is key: Attention of the international community goes into the negotiation phase. However, many processes fail or gains of inclusive negotiations are lost during implementation. Inclusive post-agreement commissions such as monitoring bodies and constitution review commissions shape the implementation of agreements, thus their inclusive composition and proper functioning need preparation and monitoring. 5. Process design is important: How peace processes are designed is fundamental as it enables or constrains the ability of included actors to exercise influence. Whatever the inclusion modality, rules and procedures can negate the benefits of inclusion. 6. Power matters: Inclusive processes can challenge power structures, and resistance by powerful elites is to be expected. However, local civil society groups and the international community have been ill-prepared to handle elite resistance. Public buy-in for an agreement or constitution is also important and is influenced by the country’s political climate and the attitude of powerful actors. However, public buy-in can also be encouraged.


Migbaru Alamirew Workneh, Zerayehu Sime Eshete, & Francesco Figari (SSRN 2020)

This paper uses panel data for 34 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa to investigate the effect of gender inequality and governance on poverty. It applied a maximum likelihood estimation of random effect models. It found that high gender inequality in Sub-Saharan Africa contributes for high poverty. The results also show that good governance in Sub-Saharan Africa may have a decisive positive impact on poverty reduction. The results are robust at country and regional level data. Convincingly, it also found that gender inequality and the absence of good governance can have a potential impact to increase poverty. Hence, to get out of poverty by improving human development, refining frameworks that improve the institutional quality through voice and accountability, regulations and government effectiveness on socio-economic issues are necessary. The high gender inequality in the region should also decreased.


(ICJ 2020)

Around the world, businesses frequently operate in areas or regions in which armed conflict, internal disturbances or upheaval, severe authoritarianism, or other crises are either continuing or have recently ceased. It is now common for societies seeking to move past such periods to employ transitional justice processes and mechanisms in efforts to build constitutional democracies grounded in the rule of law, protection of human rights and the fair administration of justice. At times businesses are involved, either directly or in complicity with State agents, armed groups or other actors, in human rights violations or abuses, which occur during or after such conflicts or authoritarian settings. These abuses may be of civil and political rights, but they also often implicate economic, social and cultural rights. Failure to properly consider abuses of economic, social and cultural rights in transitional justice processes, including those caused or contributed to by businesses, can render their outcomes less effective and unsustainable. This guide sets out the core principles of international human rights law relating to: Transitional Justice; Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Business and Human Rights, clearly describing how these three sets of principles interact and coalesce to assist transitional justice practitioners in ensuring that the design and implementation of transitional justice processes and mechanisms are fully consistent with international human rights law.

Transparency, Accountability and Anticorruption

Abigail Bellows (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2020)

Corruption-fueled political change is occurring at a historic rate—but is not necessarily producing the desired systemic reforms. There are many reasons for this, but one is the dramatic dissipation of public momentum after a transition. As the field has become more professionalized, anticorruption nongovernment organizations (NGOs) have developed the legal and technical expertise to serve as excellent counterparts/watchdogs for government. Yet this strength can also be a hurdle when it comes to building credibility with the everyday people they seek to represent. The result is a disconnect between elite and grassroots actors, which is problematic at multiple levels: (i) Technocratic NGOs lack the “people power” to advance their policy recommendations and are exposed to attack as illegitimate or foreign-sponsored. (ii) Grassroots networks struggle to turn protest energy into targeted demands and lasting reform, which can leave citizens frustrated and disillusioned about democracy itself. (iii) Government reformers lack the sustained popular mandate to deliver on the ambitious agenda they promised, leaving them politically vulnerable to the next convulsion of public anger at corruption. Two strategies can help civil society address this challenge. First, organizations can seek to hybridize, with in-house capacities for both policy analysis and mass mobilization. Alternatively, organizations can build formal or informal coalitions between groups operating at the elite and grassroots levels, respectively. Both strategies pose challenges: learning new skills, weaving together distinct organizational cultures and methodologies, and defining demands that are both technically sound and publicly appealing. In many instances, coalition-building will be an easier road given it does not require altering internal organizational and personnel structures. Political windows-of-opportunity on anticorruption may lend urgency to this difficult task and help crystallize what both sides have to gain from increased partnership.


Executive/Public Administration/Regulatory Agencies

Maartje De Visser (forthcoming in J Neo and S Jhaveri, eds., Constitutional Change in Singapore - Reforming the Elected Presidency, Routledge 2020)

Constitutional reform processes typically combine both democratic and technocratic elements. This is, among others, the case when preparatory constitutional commissions are used. Such commissions are usually composed of legally qualified persons and other experts, while simultaneously being charged to consult widely among the public. Using the experience of the 2016 Constitutional Commission for the reform of the Office of the President in Singapore as a case study, this paper evaluates the contribution that constitutional commissions may make. Two core claims are advanced. First, the involvement of a constitutional commission at the outset of the formal constitutional reform procedure can infuse the entire process with greater societal legitimacy and allow the resultant changes to take firmer root in the public’s consciousness. Whether this actually materializes is however dependent on specific framework conditions: these most obviously include the political follow-up, if any, to the recommendations of the commission, but also include the scope of the latter’s mandate, its treatment of submissions received and the extent to which those making submissions can be deemed to be representative of the various affected sub-strata of society. That last condition in particular is challenging to satisfy in practice. Second, the paper shows how constitutional commissions may bridge the distinction typically drawn between constitution-making and constitution-application, by contributing to discussions about the desired meaning to be given to the constitutional text. This confirms the need for a broad understanding of constitutional dialogues that recognizes that courts and legislatures are not the only players of importance as far as constitutional interpretation is concerned.

Elections and Political Parties

Daniel P. Tokaji (Forthcoming, Comparative Election Law, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2020)

This chapter examines the institutions responsible for administering elections around the world and considers what law, lawyers, and legal scholars might do to strengthen democracy through their improvement. A now-substantial body of literature examines election management bodies in both emerging and established democracies. The consensus is that independent election administration is essential to electoral integrity. This chapter challenges the conventional wisdom in two respects. First, it argues that the formal independence of election management bodies is less important than their functional impartiality. Interactions between election institutions and political parties often promote evenhanded administration better than complete insulation from politics. Thus, formal independence may ultimately detract from functional impartiality. Second, this chapter challenges the narrow focus on election management bodies and attendant disregard for other institutions involved in elections, especially judicial and quasi-judicial actors. It argues that comparative analysis should focus on the interaction among the various entities that collectively comprise the electoral system, including both administrative and adjudicative bodies. The chapter concludes by proposing criteria for assessing electoral systems and suggesting that election lawyers and scholars engage more deeply in international election observation.

(NDI 2019)

This toolkit is designed to aid visionary, ambitious party members who are on the peripheries of power, but eager to plan and implement internal reforms aimed at improving a party’s internal democracy and electoral appeal. Taking the Wheel seeks to equip party change agents with a roadmap for the implementation strategies and soft skills needed to navigate the arduous party reform process. The guide includes key recommendations for potential party reformers, case studies with personal experiences from reformers around the world, and Reform Scenarios that take the reader through the planning process of party reform experts. Readers will learn how to begin the journey to reform, build leadership and transparency in their party, ensure gender equality, and reinvent relationships with citizens.

Saskia Brechenmacher & Caroline Hubbard (Carnegie Endowment, 2020)

Political parties around the world face a crisis in public confidence. Many citizens view them as inaccessible and unresponsive to their concerns. Parties pose specific challenges for women, who face both formal and informal barriers to participation, including opaque nomination procedures, violence, and parties with hypermasculine cultures. The formation of new parties during periods of political transition represents a potential opportunity to break these patterns. Transitions can be openings to transform the broader political, legal, and social barriers to an inclusive kind of politics. In these moments of flux, the development of new party branches and rules, as well as the renegotiation of broader institutional frameworks, can enable women and other marginalized groups to push for greater political representation within party structures. To support gender inclusion within newly formed political parties during and following political transitions, international assistance providers should: (i) Begin with gendered political economy analysis; (ii) Conduct gender and inclusion assessments of political parties; (iii) Offer pretransition support to women’s groups; (iv) Ensure gender-transformative transition support; (v) Provide targeted support for gender equality in early party development; and (vi) Prioritize sustained party support.


Politically Engaged Programming/Politically Adaptive Programming/Adaptive Management

Pedro Prieto Martín, Marina Apgar & Kevin Hernandez (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), 2020)

Adaptive management (AM) is a program management approach that helps international development organizations to become more learning-oriented and more effective in addressing complex development challenges. AM practices have been applied for decades within other sectors as varied as logistics, manufacturing, product design, military strategy, software development and lean enterprise. At its core, AM is not much more than common sense, as it essentially recognizes that the solutions to complex and dynamic problems cannot be identified at the outset of a program but need to emerge throughout the process of implementation as a result of systematic and intentional monitoring and learning. The generic AM process typically involves an iterative cycle of design, implementation, reflection and adaptation activities, supported both by system monitoring and stakeholder involvement to obtain a better understanding of the evolving system and improve how the intervention is managed.

Journey to Self Reliance/J2SR

Amanda Glassman , Janeen Madan Keller , Brin Datema and Julia Kaufman (CGD 2019)

As countries grow economically, governments face rapidly growing demands for quality, affordable, accessible, and equitable healthcare and other social services. At the same time, many middle-income countries face the prospect of transitioning away from donor aid, adding pressure to already-constrained public budgets to fill gaps as donor support ramps down. As a result, governments must contend with difficult trade-offs and make tough decisions about whether to continue funding the same interventions. An emerging body of research describes the historical effects of aid declines on the amount and composition of public spending and development outcomes in partner countries. One particular question researchers seek to understand is how aid transition may affect the sustained delivery of essential public health services historically financed—or co-financed—by aid. Another understudied dimension is whether current policy approaches to transition are adequately addressing potential adverse effects. This note reviews available research and discusses policy implications.

Rachael Calleja and Annalisa Prizzon (ODI 2019)
This report synthesizes the experiences of four countries – Botswana, Chile, Mexico and the Republic of Korea – in the transition from aid and graduation from official development assistance (ODA). It presents research on the management of the transition from aid, cooperation with development partners when aid falls and bi- and multilateral cooperation as countries approach ODA graduation. The findings presented in this report are informed by a combination of data analysis, a literature review of the main academic and policy documents and semi-structured interviews. A set of lessons, informed by the country studies, are outlined that are intended to be useful for other countries entering or progressing along the path towards ODA graduation, as well as for development partners to sustain outcomes and renew partnerships. This report forms part of a larger project that sets out to investigate country experiences of and key lessons from the transition and graduation from ODA. The project includes four dedicated country studies, the findings of which inform this report: Botswana, Mexico, Chile and the Republic of Korea.

Capacity Development

(IREX Employee Essential Learning Suite, 2020)

Training alone isn’t enough to ensure high impact soft skills development. In fact, “learning” cannot be treated as a one-time event. Instead, authentic learning requires a process of continual practice and reflection. IREX’s Tool for Applying Learning, addresses the gap that affects most soft skills training approaches by integrating an effective way to support individuals to learn how to learn. Evidence from the research literature shows that integrating learning practices into skills training not only leads to better uptake of new skills but also better performance in the use of those skills, compared to skills training that lacks a learning component. The Tool for Applying Learning helps learners learn how to learn by empowering them with concrete steps to follow as they apply their new skills in their daily activities and work; and continue to develop their skills through everyday practice, eventually ensuring skill mastery. Thus, this approach addresses the ‘application gap’ that plagues many skills development and professional development efforts: that learners do not apply what they learned during skill development programs.

Assessment Tools and Strategies

András Jakab & Viktor Oliver Lorincz (SSRN 2020)

Since the early 2010s, and especially since the 10 June 2015 resolution of the European Parliament, there has been a growing interest in monitoring and measuring the rule of law in the Member States of the EU. Going beyond the available measurement tools in Europe, such as the EU Justice Scoreboard, we discuss the lessons taught by the construction of international indices on the rule of law. In addition to the traditional toolbox of a lawyer, we have to turn to other methods of social sciences and statistics in order to quantify the state of, as well as the changes and trends in the rule of law. The methodology regarding this topic has an extensive literature and we can enumerate manifold European and US American indices measuring the rule of law (e.g. Freedom House, Bertelsmann Stiftung, World Bank, World Justice Project). The present paper is a methodological introduction into rule of law indices, focusing on the terminology used, the collection and aggregation of data, the interpretation of the results and the comparison between countries and over time. Our purpose is to show how (and how far) these indices could be used in the current rule of law crisis of the European Union.

Miguel Loureiro, Anuradha Joshi,Katrina Barnes & Egidio Chaimite (IDS, 2020)

Research on empowerment and accountability tends to focus on collective action and its potential for empowering citizens undertaking the action and on achieving state accountability. In fragile, conflict and violence-affected settings collective action is rare and risky. So how do citizens, particularly the chronically poor and most marginalized, interact and make claims on the different public authorities that exist in these settings, and how do these interactions contribute to citizens’ sense of empowerment and accountability? Given the current agenda of ‘leave no one behind’, an understanding of how such populations interact with public authorities to meet their governance needs can help identify the constraints to achieving development for all in these challenging settings. The authors developed ‘governance diaries,’ a cross between a panel survey and multi-sited ethnographies, as an iterative approach to capture their experiences around governance issues over time. They explain here how this approach works, and the challenges and opportunities it offers for research.

Measurement, Evaluation & Learning

Tiina Pasanen and Inka Barnett (ODI, December 2019)

This working paper introduces a set of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) tools and approaches, discussing their potential usefulness in supporting adaptive management in development and humanitarian programs. It emphasizes adaptive programs characterized by complex aspects, such as: (1) they are innovative; (2) they have uncertain pathways for change; or (3) they operate in uncertain or unstable environments. The majority of these tools have been used in international development for many years. However, adaptive management brings additional challenges for monitoring and evaluating programs, as they require intentional M&E design from the start that is oriented towards both learning and accountability. All of the tools and approaches introduced in this paper have the potential to support learning and adaptation, although in various ways and at different stages of a program. Some tools can support strategic planning and diagnosing throughout a program – especially during design and inception – while others can help analyze causal relationships at specific points in a program. It is important to tailor the approach used for its intended purpose. However, whether learning and adaptation happens depends also on factors other than the choice of M&E methods. For some of these approaches a considerable body of evidence already exists but, for many, more practical examples and systematic analysis is needed. In addition to building the evidence base concerned with which approaches are suitable for different types of adaptive program and why, it is also important to improve understanding of the enabling environmental conditions necessary for the tools and approaches outlined here to facilitate and strengthen evaluative thinking, evidence-informed decision-making and ongoing program iteration.

Caitlin McKee , Catherine Blampied , Ian Mitchell and Andrew Rogerson (CGD January 27, 2020)

This paper revisits the concept of international development aid effectiveness and its measurement as part of a review of the Quality of ODA (QuODA) assessment published regularly since 2010. The paper takes stock of the current state of evidence and consensus on the principles of aid effectiveness; reviews potential measures; and proposes a revised framework for QuODA, to quantitatively measure indicators of aid quality at the single-agency level, including both bilateral and multilateral actors.

Melanie Punton, Isabel Vogel, Jennifer Leavy, Charles Michaelis & Edward Boydell (CDI 2020)

Realist evaluation asks ‘how and why do interventions work or not work, for whom, and in what circumstances?’ It holds promise as an approach that can help evaluate complex programs, and provide nuanced insights to guide decisions about rolling out, scaling up, or trying out interventions elsewhere. This CDI Practice Paper presents lessons from four large, multi-country realist evaluations of complex interventions conducted by Itad since 2013. It argues that realist evaluation can add value by enhancing the clarity, depth, and portability of findings, helping evaluators deal with context and complexity in pragmatic ways, and providing helpful tools and lenses for implementers to critically appraise their programs and generate learning. However, novice realist evaluators face a number of potential pitfalls, especially in large-scale evaluations. This paper shares lessons on how Itad has navigated these challenges, which may be helpful to others working in similar contexts in international development and beyond.

Message from the Editor

Greetings in a time of Covid-19.

SUNY/CID welcomes new and continuing readers to its Governance Information Bulletin (GIB). While this issue of GIB is not a intended as a source of Covid-19 specific information, we hope that it at least offers a welcome distraction from the onslaught of increasingly depressing coronavirus news with a cornucopia of interesting and cutting edge articles on governance and development.

As always, the GIB highlights recent open source articles of interest for development practitioners and scholars in the area of governance. Areas of attention include: (1) substantive and cross-cutting topics in the areas of democracy, rule of law, and governance assistance; (2) development and political institutions including executive and judicial branch support; legislative development; local governance and devolution; and public sector performance improvement and (3) program design, management, measurement, evaluation and learning.

All previous issues can be found at the SUNY/CID website here.

We welcome all questions, comments and suggestions for additional readings of interest to development professionals at cidgib@albany.edu.

David E. Guinn

In This Issue

* Eleven Recommendations for Working on Empowerment and Accountability in Fragile, Conflict or Violence-Affected Settings

* Women and Conflict

* Donor Support to Peace Processes: A Lessons for Peace Literature Review

* Peace Building: Conceptual, Trajectory and Imperative Analyses in the Third World Countries

* Strengthening Social Cohesion: Conceptual Framing and Programming Implications

* Next Generation Women, Peace and Security: Case Studies in Women's Inclusion

* International Actors’ Support on Inclusive Peace Processes

* Gender Inequality, Governance and Poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa

* Corporate Accountability for Abuses of Economic, Social & Cultural Rights in Conflict and Transition

* Bridging the Elite-Grassroots Divide Among Anticorruption Activists?

* The Influence of Preparatory Constitutional Commissions on Constitutional Reform Projects

* Comparative Election Administration: A Legal Perspective on Electoral Institutions

* Taking the Wheel and Piloting Change: A Framework for Party Reformers

* Breaking the Cycle of Gender Exclusion in Political Party Development

* Adaptive Management in SDC: Challenges and Opportunities

* Mind the Gaps: Takeaways from Emerging Research and Policy Implications for Aid Transition in Health and Development

* Moving Away From Aid: Lessons From Country Studies

* Tool for Applying Learning

* Rule of Law Indices and How They Could be Used in the EU Rule of Law Crisis

* Governance Diaries: An Approach to Governance Research from the Ground Up

* Supporting Adaptive Management: Monitoring and Evaluation Tools and Approaches

* Revisiting Aid Effectiveness: A New Framework and Set of Measures for Assessing Aid “Quality”

* Reality Bites: Making Realist Evaluation Useful in the Real World

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