Democratic Governance

People in a conference room puttin their hands up and smiling
Learning about elections in Kazakhstan, 2011

Countries in the region have made significant progress towards democratic governance. They created independent civil services, local governments, and electoral systems; they modernized public services, streamlined administrative procedures, and expanded the rights of local governments. However, not all of these reforms are complete, and much remains to be done.  

Governance challenges include transparent decision-making, and access to information and public institutions, especially for marginalized groups – challenges that deepened with the global financial crisis, which hit countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia particularly hard.

Eastern Europe had the largest decline in democracy scores in the world: out of the 28 countries in Eastern Europe, 19 recorded a decline between 2008 and 2010 (Economist Intelligence Unit, pdf). Political trust, political participation and confidence in public institutions are low across the region. According to the Eurobarometer, only 27 percent of those surveyed in new European Union member states and accession countries trust their national government. Steady declines are projected in the region for broader political freedom (38 percent free) and media freedom (27 percent free) according to Freedom House.

According to Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, countries in the Western Balkans have made the most noticeable improvements in citizen perception of corruption in the region, with Croatia (from 3.4 in 2005 to 4.1 in 2010) and Montenegro (from 3.3 in 2007 to 4.0 in 2011) leading the way. Central Asian countries have higher rates of perceived corruption.

What we do

UNDP works with national partners to develop state and social structures that protect human rights, encourage healthy parliamentary and judicial oversight, reduce corruption, and empower local governments and civil society. This includes:

  • Advocating for openness, transparency and accountability of public institutions
  • Exploring ways to increase citizen access to: justice, information, basic services and public decision making
  • Supporting legislation, parliaments and public administration to protect the rights of people with disabilities, minorities and other vulnerable groups

Some results so far

As of 2011, Kyrgyzstan is the first parliamentary republic in Central Asia, and drafted laws to promote gender equality related to regulations of Parliament, elections of local self governments, election commissions and the referendum, elections of the President and deputies of the Parliament, status of judges, constitutional chamber of the Supreme Court, council of selection of judges, and bodies of internal affairs. Parliament also approved gender quotas in district electoral committees and the court system.

Bosnia and Herzegovina included issues of gender equality in its Constitution and in laws related to the police.

Georgia and Montenegro developed laws on legal aid to ensure access to justice for people living in poverty. 

All countries in the region have had a peer review of their human rights practices (as part of the Universal Periodic Review) and are starting to implement some of the recommendations. This is helping to promote the principles of human rights, gender equality, and tolerance in national development planning.

Turkmenistan developed a national action plan to ensure the rights of people with disabilities; and Croatia is developing a national policy on legal representation and guardianship of people with disabilities.

Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia and FYR Macedonia developed national anti corruption strategies and anti-corruption agencies are implementing national anti-corruption plans, assessing corruption within specific sectors, and reviewing legislation.