Our Perspective

      • Rule of law key to maintaining development gains | Magdy Martinez Soliman

        19 Jul 2013

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        12,000 police officers have received basic police training in Somalia. Photo: UNDP in Somalia

        For the first time in history, the possibility of eradicating poverty is a reality. The number of people living in extreme poverty has fallen across every developing region over the last 12 years. Yet, we face considerable challenges to human development largely shaped by growing inequalities within countries. Bad governance, poor health, low quality education, the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation continue to be the drivers of universal poverty. The rule of law is essential to address the current threats to progress on human development. No country affected by widespread conflict or fragility has achieved a Millennium Development Goal target. Effective security and justice systems are necessary to facilitate transitions out of fragility and conflict and to prevent violent crime. Moreover, the rule of law as the principle of governance that no one is above the law reinforces accountability to the law and establishes checks on power that reduce abuse of authority and corruption. Of course, the relationships between the rule of law and human development are complex and multi-faceted. The challenge will be to develop measurable targets and indicators for the Post-2015 framework that resonate within diverse country contexts and enable the political and social action at the Read More

      • Can states empower poor people? Your thoughts please | Duncan Green

        17 Jul 2013

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        Mobile money services have reached 450,000 people in five Pacific countries, a shift from an insecure, costly cash system. Inexpensive payment and savings services increase financial access for the poor.

        I’m currently writing a paper on how governments can promote the empowerment of poor people. Nice and specific then. It’s ambitious/brave/bonkers depending on your point of view, and I would love some help from readers. First things first. This is about governments and state action. So not aid agencies, multilaterals or (blessed relief) NGOs, except as bit players. And not state-as-problem: here I’m looking at where state action has achieved positive impacts. The idea is to collect examples of success and failure in state action, as well as build some kind of overall narrative about what works, when and why. Here’s where I’m currently at: Empowerment happens when individuals and organised groups are able to imagine their world differently and to realise that vision by changing the relations of power that have been keeping them in poverty. The current literature suggests a neat fit with a ‘three powers’ model first proposed by our own Jo Rowlands (I think). According to this reading, power for excluded groups and individuals can be disaggregated into three basic forms: - power within (a sense of rights, dignity and voice, along with basic capabilities). This individual level of empowerment is an essential precondition for collective action. Read More

      • Nothing threatens the future as much as the debt of the past | Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi

        15 Jul 2013

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        The Police Training and Development Unit of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) conducting a two-week training programme in criminal investigation at General Kaahiye Police Academy. (Credit: Tobin Jones/UN Photo)

        The "complementarity" principle embedded in the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court gives national criminal justice systems primacy in prosecuting serious international crimes. Whenever possible, international crimes should be tried by domestic courts, since this strengthens national ownership, legitimacy and confidence in the justice system. Transitional  justice is not a special kind of justice, but an approach to achieving justice in times of transition from conflict and/or state repression. I spoke recently at UNDP’s Annual Meeting on Strengthening the Rule of Law in Crisis-Affected and Fragile Situations about complementarity and the challenge for development actors (PDF) to effectively embed these efforts within transitional justice processes, rule of law assistance and the broader development framework. Holding perpetrators to account for serious violations is a complex and sensitive issue, which must be driven by the national society to be successful. Working with partners such as Denmark, South Africa and the International Centre for Transitional Justice, we can build and capitalize on the solid policy and knowledge base already developed. For example, UNDP and other UN agencies supported regional consultations in 2011 and 2012 in the Arab States, bringing together Afghanistan, Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia and Yemen to help national actors Read More

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