Our Perspectives

Rule of Law and quality public services are key enablers of development


 A worker tallies the trucks at the Santo Nino dump site in Tacloban, Philippines. (Photo: Lesley Wright/UNDP Philippines)

It is no longer enough for individuals to just receive services. It is equally, if not more important, to pay attention to service quality, as well as the quality of communication between public service providers and the people they serve.

To bridge the knowledge gap on how to situate, understand and act on Rule of Law challenges in public administration, we developed a self-assessment tool for governments, in cooperation with the Swedish Folke Bernadotte Academy  . This measurement tool uses six clearly defined Rule of Law principles: legality, accessibility, transparency, the right to be heard, the right to appeal, and accountability.

The tool assesses ‘the governance of service delivery’, using a rights-based perspective to analyze gaps between the offer– which services people should be entitled to and under which conditions – and the delivery – what people receive in reality and how these services are delivered.

Piloted in three countries – the Philippines, Ukraine and Sierra Leone – the tool focuses on selected administrative processes and services affecting the rights, liberties or interests of private persons, including the private sector. The ultimate aim of the assessment is to ensure that action is initiated at the appropriate level to address the weaknesses detected and improve the performance of the public sector.

Results reveal that civil servants often lack sufficient awareness of legislation and regulatory procedures, as well as adequate training on human rights-based approaches. On the other hand, people tend to be ill-informed of their rights and entitlements, and are generally unaware of the mechanisms for redress.

Steps taken in response to these challenges include:

     • affirmative action to overcome discrimination against certain groups;

     • training programmes to better familiarize civil servants with a human rights-based approach to service delivery;

     • lobbying government and lawmakers at the national, regional and local levels for policy and legal reforms; 

     • and initiating training on ethics for local officers where assessment revealed concerns over integrity.

The introduction of methods to assess how the public administration adheres to the Rule of Law principles is an important means towards reforming the social contract between state and society. A relationship which replaces inequality and exclusion with an environment where the aspirations of the people are met contributes to a more sustainable human development.

Governance and peacebuilding Access to justice Rule of law

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