What contributes to a successful election?

13 Apr 2015 by Ozonnia Ojielo, UNDP regional cluster leader, Governance and Peacebuilding

Voters checking their names on registered voters list in Lagos Nigeria.Africa's most populous nation and biggest economy, Nigeria has surprised the world by conducting largely peaceful elections. Photo: UNDP Nigeria
On 28 March 2015, Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation and biggest economy, surprised the world by organising largely ‘peaceful’ presidential and national assembly elections. At a time when the National Human Rights Commission was reporting dozens of deaths from pre-election violence in more half the states in the country, and with analysts predicting more of the same, the country managed to conduct a credible poll, setting an example worth sharing. Without the commitment, goodwill and resources of power brokers across the country, Nigeria’s achievement would not have been possible, despite the overwhelming acceptance among Nigerians that it was time for change. Here are some take away lessons: Role of the National Peace Committee (NPC): National leaders on their own accord established a National Peace Committee that was instrumental in mediating differences between the political parties and building confidence. The Committee persuaded presidential candidates sign two peace pledges in the run-up to the elections— assuring that they would abhor violence and ethnic based campaigning, and promising that they would accept the results of the elections. Monitoring Mechanism: UNDP provided support to the National Peace Committee by providing monitoring assistance through civil society, promoting consensus, establishing mechanisms to track incidents of electoral performance … Read more

How can cooperation between local authorities help to achieve universal access to water and sanitation

10 Apr 2015 by Jean-Philippe Bayon, Expert/Coordinator, UNDP-Global Water Solidarity

 Internally displaced people (IDPs) in Bannu, Pakistan gain access to water through a UNDP-supported project. Photo: UNDP/Pakistan
Water is essential for local development, particularly for sectors such as health, agriculture, economic development, education and environment. However, 748 million people in the world lack access to an improved source of drinking water and 2.5 billion people live without basic sanitation facilities. Water scarcity mostly affects less developed countries and rural areas, preventing their citizens from living a healthy and productive life while also resulting in huge annual economic losses. To provide universal access to water and sanitation by 2030, US$ 27 billion are needed annually. Official Development Assistance (ODA) covers approximately one third of the target but 17 billion are still missing. Local and regional authorities can contribute to filling the endemic resource gap that cripples water interventions. I believe local to local cooperation is an important part of the solution but to make it fully effective we need to improve its modus operandi. The benefits of an integrated approach Thousands of regional and local actors are willing to transfer financial resources and expertise to countries with scarce access to water. France and the Netherlands have passed a legislation that commands sub regional authorities to use 1% of their fiscal entries to water cooperation. Other countries such as Spain, … Read more

The need to boost youth participation and inclusion in Latin America and the Caribbean

09 Apr 2015 by Jessica Faieta, Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean

 The region has more than 150 million young people between 15 and 29 years but a closer look into LAC parliaments reveals that young people are scarcely represented. Photo: UNDP/El Salvador
Democracy is widely supported in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). However, institutions and policymakers don’t always enjoy the same positive perception, according to recent Latinobarómetro surveys. Young people in the region have been playing a key role in recent peaceful demonstrations that demand more effective and transparent governments. And they do so not only by taking to the streets but also by playing a role in their own communities and — increasingly — on social networks. The region has more than 150 million young people between 15 and 29 years but has a great challenge ahead: curbing inequality in decision-making and public policy shaping. Institutionalized gaps must be closed if we want to achieve more equal societies: for women, men, lesbian, gays, bisexuals, transgendered and intersex, and people of African and indigenous descent. A closer look into LAC parliaments reveals that young people are scarcely represented, especially women. Among members of parliament, only 2.7 percent of males and 1.3 percent of females are under 30 years old — despite the fact 1 in 4 Latin Americans is young. Today’s young people are also the best educated in the history of LAC, and we need to facilitate their participation in decision-making, … Read more

The political economy of illicit financial flows

09 Apr 2015 by Max Everest-Phillips, Director, Global Centre for Public Service Excellence, Singapore

In this blog series, our experts share their thoughts and lessons learned on key financing for development issues, in the run-up to the UN’s Financing for Development conference in July. Tax evasion has often been the hallmark of the elites. In ancient Rome, the upper class viewed tax as ‘the mark of bondage.’  Two millennia later, Leona Helmsley, the wife of a real estate billionaire in New York, reportedly said: ‘Only little people pay taxes’. But the Roman Empire collapsed because the tax on land was largely passed on the poor, and later on the middle classes, while the elite carried less and less of the public financial burden. Today, both developed and developing countries alike face similar problems. Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) such as tax avoidance and evasion, embezzlement of national resources, trade misinvoicing, and smuggling of goods and capital across borders, are widespread phenomena and occur for a range of reasons, including theft, corruption, high political or economic instability in the originating country or higher returns on investment in the destination country. Although these problems can affect all countries, it can be particularly prevalent (and harmful) in natural resource-rich states with weak governance such as Nigeria, Gabon and Equatorial … Read more

If it is not rights-based, it is not real human development

07 Apr 2015 by Magdy Martínez-Solimán, Director, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, New York.

  In Mozambique, UNDP is putting an emphasis on human rights in its development work. Photo: UN/Mozambique
Today, as we witness widening inequalities within countries, intensifying competition around scarce natural resources, and the continued exclusion of marginalized groups, national human rights institutions (NHRIs) are more relevant than ever.  They are the cornerstones of our national systems for the promotion and protection of human rights, essential to sustaining development and successful implementation of the Post-2015 Development Agenda. In the past year alone, UNDP partnered with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to support the establishment of NHRIs in Botswana, Samoa and Sao Tome and Principe. We continue to provide capacity-building support to foster human rights protection, by establishing the mechanisms for handling of complaints in several member states or by supporting the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review process in others. In Mozambique, for example, UNDP is assisting the National Human Rights Commission in monitoring places of detention. These practices emphasize what states should do to prevent and address negative impacts from infringements of human rights, and to ensure protection for people whose rights have been adversely affected. The importance of the role of National Human Rights Institutions is heightened by the recent rise in social tensions and violent extremism around the world.  Human rights … Read more