Our Perspective

      • Electoral integrity makes governance legitimate | Magdy Martinez-Soliman

        25 Oct 2013

        Zameer Akhtar conducts a polling training as part of a programme to improve the credibility and reliability of elections. (Photo: Tehseen Oweis/UNDP Pakistan)

        In 2002, UNDP published a Human Development Report titled “Deepening democracy in a fragmented world.” The central message of the report was that “effective governance is central to human development, and lasting solutions need to be firmly grounded in democratic politics in the broadest sense.” A functioning democracy allows all people to participate in decisions that affect their lives and hold their leaders to account. Democratic elections are still one of the most powerful and effective means to ensure such political accountability and are central to our human development approach. From countries emerging from conflict to peaceful, established democracies the ultimate aim of national authorities should be to conduct elections that are a legitimate and sovereign expression of the people’s will. The Sixth Global Electoral Organization (GEO) Conference, which I attended in Korea last week, highlighted the importance of sustainable electoral processes for strengthening democracy by looking at the integrity and inclusion of electoral processes; the central issue of  the capacity and professional development of electoral management bodies; and the challenge of cost-effectiveness in electoral processes. Integrity is key to a credible electoral process. Electoral integrity is more than the mere absence of political manipulation and fraud, however. It includes a Read More

      • People are cities, cities are the future | Chris de la Torre

        23 Oct 2013

        Kampala, Uganda at night. (Photo: UNDP in Uganda)

        Making cities more sustainable is central to global development, and it's easy to see why. The report of the Secretary-General's High Level Panel on the post-2015 development agenda (PDF) describes cities as "engines for business and innovation," adding that "with good management they can provide jobs, hope and growth, while building sustainability." Following current trends, by 2025, 65 percent of the world's economic growth could be generated by just 600 cities. Urbanists like Alan Ehrenhalt have studied the impact of development on cities, portraying them as dynamic and diverse systems that help shape the trajectory of economic and social evolution. People are coming together, and fast. The current influx of people to urban areas, projected to have two thirds of the earth's population living in cities by 2050, underscores the need for improved infrastructure and social relations. The global urban slum population will increase by 6 million each year unless improvements are made. The rapid growth of cities demands an integrated approach to sustainable development that considers equality, human rights and resilience. Success hinges on partnerships between Member States, multilateral organizations and civil society — in essence putting people at the forefront of global change. While the Universal Declaration of Human Read More

      • Women in conflict situations need justice | Roma Bhattacharjea

        18 Oct 2013

        Sudanese women gather at workshop on UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security. (Photo: Soujoud Elgarrai/UNAMID)

        When conflict causes a breakdown in social order and the rule of law, inequalities increase and women bear the brunt of the violence. We should, however, not view women as mere victims, as they play a vital role in ensuring sustainable peace. On October 18 the UN Security Council will discuss this role, and reaffirm the right of women to access the rule of law and seek redress for human rights abuses during conflicts. More than a decade after Security Council Resolution 1325 was drafted, which, among other things, committed countries to protecting women and girls in conflict situations, women's voice, leadership and participation, safety, economic security, and access to justice are still distant goals. If all goes well, the Security Council will agree to a new resolution that recommits countries to changing this situation. Sexual and gender-based violence happen wherever there is armed conflict, even after peace treaties have been signed. Reducing violence against women and girls, however, allows girls to go to school, avoid early marriages, and helps decrease human trafficking. It allows women and girls to contribute to just and equal societies, which do not relapse into armed conflict. When the Security Council meets this week, the international Read More