Our Perspective

      • I dare you to finish this paragraph about peace | Ozonnia Ojielo

        29 Jul 2013

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        In Kenya, UNDP pioneered crowdsourcing for conflict prevention during the country’s constitutional referendum in 2010. A toll-free SMS service allowed people to report threats, which civil society groups and police responded to. The referendum passed without violence. (Photo: UNDP Kenya)

        “The core mandate of UNDP is to strengthen national capacities for development. From this basis, the concept of ‘infrastructures for peace’ has served to guide UNDP’s support to assessing and addressing country structural vulnerability. ‘Infrastructures for peace’ can be defined as ‘the network of interdependent structures, mechanisms, resources, values, and skills which, through dialogue and consultation, contribute to conflict prevention and peacebuilding in a society.’” Still here? Congratulations. You are probably in the minority.   My point in presenting this eye-watering statement unedited is perhaps facetious, but important: All too often in development, jargon is used to obscure activities that are not only vitally important – but actually quite simple as well. The “infrastructures for peace” concept is a case in point. What could be more important in a conflict-ridden country than giving governments, police, quarrelling groups and factions the skills they need to engage peacefully? This means giving communities the resources and support they need to mediate and resolve conflicts, analyze where conflict may re-ignite, and to be warned in time so that rapid response is possible. For example: •  In Lesotho in 2012, the political environment was becoming heated and violence was a possibility. UNDP gave mediator training to Read More

      • 10 Killer Facts on Democracy and Elections | Duncan Green

        26 Jul 2013

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        Peace-keeping authorities monitor the 2010 referendum in Nairobi, Kenya. (Photo: UNDP Kenya)

        OK, this is a bit weird, but I want to turn an infographic into a blogpost. The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) has just put out a 10 killer facts on elections and democracy infographic (PDF) by Alina Rocha Menocal, and it’s great. Here’s a summary: 1. Most countries today are formal democracies. By the end of 2011, the only countries considered autocracies were: Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, China, Cuba, Eritrea, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Laos, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Swaziland, Syria, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam and Uzbekistan. 2. More than one in three live in authoritarian systems (but over half of them are in China). 3. Elections have become almost universal: elections have been held in all but five countries with populations >500k from 2000-2012: China, Eritrea, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates. 4. Most leaders in Africa are replaced by ballots, not bullets: While in the 1960s and 1970s approximately 75 percent of African leaders were ousted through violent means (coup d’etats, rebellion), in the period of 2000-2005 this number had dropped to 19 percent. 5. But elections are not always peaceful: between 1990 and 2007 one in five elections in Sub-Saharan Africa suffered significant violence. 6. The quality Read More

      • Measuring the high expectations of Latin America’s youth | Heraldo Muñoz

        22 Jul 2013

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        Two thirds of young people in Latin America are more optimistic about the future than the present. Photo: Wim Bouden/PNUD Perú

        Recent demonstrations sparked by young Latin Americans urge us to understand the demands of young people, and to address lingering structural problems in our societies, especially inequality. These protests are also an opportunity to rethink democratic governance in the 21st century, in the digital age of flourishing social media activism. The increasing frequency of such mobilizations tells us that young people want to actively participate in their society’s development. The first Ibero-American Youth Survey—which we launched with the Ibero-American Youth Organization and other partners on 22 July in Madrid— shows that young people in Latin America, Portugal and Spain expect their participation to increase over the next five years. Institutions should provide formal spaces for this, or protests will become the most effective way for young people to make their voices heard. And the region will waste an opportunity to enhance the quality of its democratic governance. We introduced in this survey the first Youth Expectation Index, based on our decades-long experience in the production of Human Development Indices. This new Index—which reflects young people’s perceptions and subjective values of social, economic and political rights—  revealed the same messages that young people in the region are conveying in the streets: they Read More

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