Our Perspective

      • From the street to the Parliament: A growing democracy | Cihan Sultanoglu

        28 Sep 2012

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        Social mobilization in Iskra Village, Kyrgyzstan. Photo: UNDP Kyrgyzstan

        Kyrgyzstan has become the first country in Central Asia to adopt a parliamentary democracy and UNDP, a key partner in the country since its independence in 1991, played an essential role in helping draft the country’s new constitution. The latest changes in government, in September 2012, were carried out fully in line with this new constitution, and Kyrgyzstan saw a smooth and peaceful transfer of power. UNDP helped organize parliamentary hearings, trainings and study visits for the members of parliament and staff.  We also supported the creation of parliamentary information channels, such as a website, a dedicated radio and TV service. We will continue to work with the Parliament to improve the budgetary process and strengthen the audit system – to further promote accountability. Today, Kyrgyzstan’s government and parliament are closer to representing the voters’ will than anywhere else in Central Asia.  As Parliament Speaker Asylbek Jeenbekov recently said, “Kyrgyzstan is steadily moving from an aggressive street democracy to a parliamentary democracy”. However, high levels of poverty – touching nearly 50% of the population in some regions – youth unemployment, low participation of women in government, corruption, drug trafficking, ethnic tensions and environmental pollution are still challenges the country must face. Read More

      • Youth hold the key to Somalia’s future | Sima Bahous

        28 Sep 2012

        For decades the world has heard only bad news from Somalia. Lawlessness, famine, piracy, and conflict have shaped our global view of this small, Horn of Africa country. The recent slaying of a member of Somalia’s new parliament underscores the severity of its challenges. Beyond the headlines, though, Somalia shows tremendous promise—it is strategically located, it has a promising agricultural sector, and recent estimates show that it may have a good deal of oil as well. But a better future will be driven neither by its location nor its natural resources: It will be driven by the country’s people—and Somalia’s hopeful youth hold the key. UNDP is today releasing its Somalia Human Development Report 2012, which focuses on the enormous potential that lies in empowering Somali youth to become an engine of peace-building and development in this country of stark contrasts. Today, 73 percent of Somalis are under 30, making theirs one of the world’s youngest countries. Typically, young people in conflict or post-conflict zones are viewed as either victims or aggressors, and indeed for decades Somali youth have known more than their fair share of violence and despair. Many young Somalis have never set foot in a schoolhouse— and still 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

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