Strengthening municipalities and democratic local governance in the Arab countries in transition


Date
: 17 - 19 December 2013
Location: Tunis, Tunisia

Transitional processes in the region provide new opportunities as well as poses new challenges to strengthening local governance. The enhancement of local democratic governance and the empowerment of municipalities could be a powerful driver of political, social and economic inclusion. Decentralized local governance has a huge potential to translate the national development agenda to the local reality, making decentralization a crucial component of the democratic transition and the new development strategy.

To develop strategies for promoting effective democratic local governance in the context of transition, further understanding is necessary to address the following questions:

  • under what condition decentralization can result in accountable municipalities and local governments, strengthening their abilities and efficiency?
  • How different components of ‘good governance’ (e.g., accountability, transparency, representation, service provision) are interrelated at the local level?  What are the needs and the challenges to be address in order to strengthen the capacities and the capabilities of municipalities and local governments?
  • How and under which conditions decentralization and strengthened municipalities could contribute to address regional disparities; what are the barriers to the political participation and representation at local level of women, youth and other marginalized groups?  

 Specific Objectives

The Regional Workshop will bring together key experts and practitioners working on municipalities and local governance in transitional context, both in the Arab region and outside, to jointly work towards achieving the following objectives: 

  • To discuss the lessons learnt from other region’s experiences of local governance and decentralization and how these experiences could benefit to Arab countries in transition;
  • To identify and highlight the key regional and national level initiatives, in the Arab region, aimed at promoting good local governance, and strengthening municipalities and local governments;
  • To share and enhance the knowledge about the key issues and challenges related to strengthening municipalities and local governance in Arab countries in transition;
  • To discuss the specific challenges related to local election and  reach a common understanding around the best ways to enhance participation and representation of women and youth;
  • To reach a better understanding of how and under which conditions decentralization and strengthening local government could improve service delivery and enhance local economic development.
  • Identify the needs in terms of knowledge and capacity building in order to strengthen democratic local governance and participatory democracy.

Participants

The workshop would target key experts on local governance in transitional context, including:  

  • Representatives of relevant Government Ministries and Departments
  • Representatives of UNDP, World Bank, ESCWA and other UN agencies

Partners

The regional consultation is organized by the UNDP Regional Centre in Cairo in collaboration with UNDP Tunisia CO, The Arab Institute for Human Rights and Yale University Programme on Governance and Local Development.