Our Perspective

      • Inclusion: the way forward for democracy in Africa | Siphosami Malunga

        17 Oct 2012

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        Two years ago, following a hotly contested presidential election, the world watched the Ivory Coast plunge into chaos as political parties and militia groups took to the streets.

        Two years ago, following a hotly contested presidential election, the world watched the Ivory Coast plunge into chaos as political parties and militia groups took to the streets. It seemed a throwback to the 1980s, when Sub-Saharan Africa was known for its violent coups, bloody civil wars and autocrats. Similar situations have been witnessed in countries like Kenya and Zimbabwe, but they are now the exception rather than the rule. Over the past twenty years, the continent has been home to a virtual democratic renaissance, evidenced by the organisation of more than 200 democratic elections and remarkable improvements in governance. To that end, regional institutions, like ECOWAS, SADC and the East African Community, now keep a close watch on national politics, going as far as suspending countries which experience unconstitutional changes of government. Elections are an essential component of democratisation in Africa. They enable people to choose among a host of competent parties and leaders, facilitate peaceful change, foster more open societies and in most cases lead to increased economic growth and long-term development. Success stories abound. In 2010, against all odds, Guinea held its first ever democratic election. The following year, Niger transitioned to civilian rule in a ballot widely Read More

      • Time to integrate traditional and formal justice | Olav Kjørven

        26 Sep 2012

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        Women take an active part at a village meeting in India.Photo: Sephi Bergerson/ UNDP India

        In some developing countries, informal or traditional justice systems resolve up to 80 percent of disputes, over everything from cattle to contracts, dowries to divorce. Disproportionately, these mechanisms affect women and children. A new report, commissioned by UNDP, UNICEF, and UN Women and produced by the Danish Institute for Human Rights, provides the most comprehensive UN study on this complex area of justice to date. It draws conclusions based on research in Bangladesh, Ecuador, Malawi, Niger, Papua New Guinea, Uganda, and 12 other developing countries. These systems, it concludes, are a reality of justice in most of the countries where UNDP works to improve lives and livelihoods and government capacities to serve. The evidence illustrates the direct bearing such systems can have on women and children’s legal empowerment, covering issues from customary marriage and divorce to custody, inheritance, and property rights. It’s time to engage squarely with customary justice systems and integrate them into broader development initiatives aimed at guaranteeing human rights and access to justice for all. These systems are often far more accessible than formal mechanisms and may have the potential to provide quick, inexpensive, and culturally relevant remedies. But traditional development models have for years paid them little Read More

      • Every day in every country – should be and can be a day without violence | Helen Clark

        21 Sep 2012

        More than half a million people die violently every year - in armed conflicts; from criminal activity; and from violent attacks in their own homes. An estimated 1.5 billion plus people live in countries affected by war, violence, and/or high levels of crime. The absence of peace exacts a terrible toll. Armed conflict terrifies communities and makes development progress very difficult. Deep inequalities may be reflected in levels of violence – and will be exacerbated by it. For example, women and girls, who suffer discrimination in many places, are disproportionately affected by armed conflict. War increases their economic and social vulnerability. Yet it is possible to tackle these challenges decisively, and UNDP sees progress being made in a number of countries in which we work. For example: ·    This year El Salvador recorded its first murder-free day in over three years. Murders there have fallen by an average of 12 per cent since the introduction of gun-free zones; ·   Liberia is on the road to recovery from  many years of civil war, 2013 will mark a decade of peace there; and ·   In Angola, an arms amnesty led to the surrender of more than 76,000 illegal weapons. These examples all show that Read More