Our Perspective

      • Sustaining democracy gains in Rwanda | Auke Lootsma

        16 Sep 2013

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        Close to 75,000 volunteers man the polling stations during the parliamentary elections in Rwanda. (Photo: Guillaume de Brier/UNAIDS)

        Rwanda is widely known for its beautiful landscape, and often remembered for its tragic genocide. But in recent years, I have seen the country make a name for itself as a fast-growing developing country with low corruption, clean and safe streets, and a parliament with the highest proportion of women representatives in the world (52 percent). The upcoming parliamentary elections, from 16 to 18 September, will be held against a backdrop of impressive improvement in the areas of democratic governance and political space. The Government recently passed a series of bills related to media, civil society and political parties to allow these stakeholders to play a stronger role in the democratic process. Candidates on party lists, women’s lists, youth and disabled lists will be vying for the 80 seats in parliament. Almost 6 million registered voters are expected to cast their ballots, an increase of 1.3 million voters compared to the parliamentary elections in 2008.   To boost its capacity and save costs, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) will use close to 75,000 volunteers to man the polling stations and ensure the voting and counting is conducted in a free, fair and transparent manner. This has allowed the NEC to bring Read More

      • Human faces of Myanmar transformation | Toily Kurbanov

        12 Sep 2013

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        Women in Myanmar's Chin State are empowered through UNDP skills training and workshops in finance. (Photo: UNDP Myanmar)

        If you’ve been following developments in Myanmar, you will surely know that the country is undergoing at least three simultaneous transformations:  •  Nation-building: shifting from a country at war with itself to a strong, harmonious Union  •  Political transformation: moving from decades of repressive military rule to participatory democracy  •  Economic transformation: emerging from an autarchic, command-based system to a market economy Hundreds of pages and thousands of cables have been written in the last year and a half—and studied scrupulously from Beijing to Brussels to Boston—about this transformation. Few reports seem to have left room for understatement, and rightly so, because the reforms we are witnessing here indeed merit adjectives such as “historic,” “dramatic” and “breathtaking.” But words alone fall short in capturing what we see inside the country:  more than 60 million human stories taking new turns here and now. For example:  •  A father in the former capital, Yangon, a former day labourer turned proud entrepreneur thanks to new openings in the economy;  •  A wife in the commercial capital, Mandalay, once a victim of domestic  violence and now an NGO activist advocating women’s empowerment;  •  A teenage boy in southern Mon State, once an escaped child soldier Read More

      • Chile's 9/11 shows political freedom is crucial for development | Heraldo Muñoz

        11 Sep 2013

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        Portrait of a child taken in the Juan Pablo II camp in Santiago, Chile. Photo: Nicolas Pinto Tironi / UNDP

        Forty years after Chile’s 9/11, when General Augusto Pinochet overthrew democratically elected President Salvador Allende, many people still ask me: Wasn’t he responsible for the economic miracle that made Chile a success story? After the coup in Egypt in July, a Wall Street Journal editorial argued that "Egyptians would be lucky if their new ruling generals turn out to be in the mold of Chile's Augusto Pinochet," who, it said, "took power amid chaos but hired free-market reformers and midwifed a transition to democracy." Indeed, Pinochet personified a disturbing contradiction. He won praise for transforming the economy into one of the most prosperous in Latin America. The main problem for Pinochet's apologists was his brutality and corruption. If only he had modernized Chile's economy without assassinating, torturing and exiling tens of thousands of dissidents and getting caught hiding offshore bank accounts. But the groundwork for Pinochet's economic modernization was laid by his predecessors—under democratic rule. Land reform in the 1960s and early '70s allowed the military regime to boost agroindustry and an export-oriented economy. By 1970 the illiteracy rate was below 10 percent, malnutrition and infant mortality had been declining for decades and Chile had several solid state institutions. The return Read More