Our Perspective

      • Democracy is in the hands of youth | Heba El-Kholy

        15 Sep 2012

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        The quality of democratic process is increasingly questioned, as witnessed by youth rebellions in scores of countries, demanding better democratic governance. Democracy needs to be renewed, revitalized and reaffirmed as a continuous social and political process to ensure equal political participation of people in governance, irrespective of gender, cast, race and creed.  Democracy is more than a system of government and free and fair elections. Democracy works when all people can claim their rights, fulfill their responsibilities as active citizens and demand accountability from the government.  There is indeed a new awakening and new aspiration for better democracy and democratic governance. But young people must be given real opportunities and space to play a prominent role in this awakening. Almost 85 percent of young people live in developing countries—60 percent of them in Asia. In 2015, the population aged 15-24 years in sub-Saharan Africa is expected to reach 200 million. Democracy Education, the theme of this years’ democracy day, is about educating, enabling and empowering people to internalize the core values of dignity, justice and freedom and to become responsible citizens to make democratic governance work. The quality of democracy in the coming years will be shaped by the quality of Read More

      • The end of the line for an insidious weapon of war? | Neil Buhne

        14 Sep 2012

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        Intact cluster bomb at war memorial in Seoul, Republic of Korea. Photo credit: Aaron Hartwell

        I remember first learning of “clusters” when I worked in Pakistan in the early 90s and saw injured Afghan children who had picked one up, losing an arm or their sight in the process. Cluster munitions destroy lives – very often those of children, in too many countries. They have killed thousands of civilians and continue to pose a threat, because they  are typically used in populated areas. According to a recent report, an estimated 94 percent of their victims are civilians and because these weapons are prone to failure they remain hazardous for many years, “efficiently” killing and maiming long after a conflict has ended. Once dropped, unexploded cluster bombs prohibit access to land that could be used for agriculture and development, and they are costly and time consuming to remove. This week, I was in Oslo where states, international organizations, and NGOs came together for the Third Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The Norwegians, instrumental in developing the Convention and committed supporters of the cause, were excellent hosts. For me it was one of those times when you see that our work is really worthwhile! The Convention which UNDP helped to draft, aims to Read More

      • New technologies play key role in strengthening democracies | G. Fraser-Moleketi

        14 Sep 2012

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        A bank representative helps customers in Fiji manage their electronic bank accounts. (Photo: Jeff Liew/UNCDF)

        International Day of Democracy this year underlines the crucial role that informed people everywhere can play in realizing the benefits of democracy. The UN Secretary-General has called for focus and creativity in bringing democracy education to all, with special attention to societies in transition where this education is needed most—and where people often have much to learn about their rights and responsibilities under a democratic system.  The call for creativity in pursuing democracy education resonates uniquely at UNDP.  Since the early 1990s, we have harnessed the transformational potential of new information and communications technologies (ICTs) for development, promoting e-governance and access to information with the specific aim of empowering people to influence public decisions. The social movements we saw in the Arab awakening and elsewhere showed just how powerful these technologies can be—especially through social networks and mobile technologies that have “democratized” access to the public sphere and given a voice to people who previously had none. Mobile technologies have, further, seen explosive growth in developing countries, where nearly 80 percent of the world’s more than 6 billion mobile subscribers live. This phenomenon has unleashed a new wave of innovation by social entrepreneurs and civil society organizations, led by young people, Read More