Our Perspective

      • Can states empower poor people? Your thoughts please | Duncan Green

        17 Jul 2013

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        Mobile money services have reached 450,000 people in five Pacific countries, a shift from an insecure, costly cash system. Inexpensive payment and savings services increase financial access for the poor.

        I’m currently writing a paper on how governments can promote the empowerment of poor people. Nice and specific then. It’s ambitious/brave/bonkers depending on your point of view, and I would love some help from readers. First things first. This is about governments and state action. So not aid agencies, multilaterals or (blessed relief) NGOs, except as bit players. And not state-as-problem: here I’m looking at where state action has achieved positive impacts. The idea is to collect examples of success and failure in state action, as well as build some kind of overall narrative about what works, when and why. Here’s where I’m currently at: Empowerment happens when individuals and organised groups are able to imagine their world differently and to realise that vision by changing the relations of power that have been keeping them in poverty. The current literature suggests a neat fit with a ‘three powers’ model first proposed by our own Jo Rowlands (I think). According to this reading, power for excluded groups and individuals can be disaggregated into three basic forms: - power within (a sense of rights, dignity and voice, along with basic capabilities). This individual level of empowerment is an essential precondition for collective action. Read More

      • Nothing threatens the future as much as the debt of the past | Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi

        15 Jul 2013

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        The Police Training and Development Unit of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) conducting a two-week training programme in criminal investigation at General Kaahiye Police Academy. (Credit: Tobin Jones/UN Photo)

        The "complementarity" principle embedded in the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court gives national criminal justice systems primacy in prosecuting serious international crimes. Whenever possible, international crimes should be tried by domestic courts, since this strengthens national ownership, legitimacy and confidence in the justice system. Transitional  justice is not a special kind of justice, but an approach to achieving justice in times of transition from conflict and/or state repression. I spoke recently at UNDP’s Annual Meeting on Strengthening the Rule of Law in Crisis-Affected and Fragile Situations about complementarity and the challenge for development actors (PDF) to effectively embed these efforts within transitional justice processes, rule of law assistance and the broader development framework. Holding perpetrators to account for serious violations is a complex and sensitive issue, which must be driven by the national society to be successful. Working with partners such as Denmark, South Africa and the International Centre for Transitional Justice, we can build and capitalize on the solid policy and knowledge base already developed. For example, UNDP and other UN agencies supported regional consultations in 2011 and 2012 in the Arab States, bringing together Afghanistan, Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia and Yemen to help national actors Read More

      • Afghanistan's future security lies in securing development | Ajay Chhibber

        11 Jul 2013

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        Constructed with the support of UNDP Afghanistan, 1,400 kilometres of road connect 4,600 villages to help 4 million people access markets. (Photo: UNDP Afghanistan)

        Recently announced negotiations with the Taliban and President Karzai’s reaction have put Afghanistan in the spotlight. There is intense interest in security. Equally important are issues of livelihoods and providing basic services such as water, roads, electricity, justice and the rule of law. These issues will determine how Afghan people react to the changing political and security landscape. Despite the gloomy news from Afghanistan, there are many positives. Over 2 million children, including girls, regularly attend school. Connectivity has improved with more than 14 million cell phone users. Budgetary systems are improving at national and municipal levels, to ensure better accountability and delivery of public services. Yet challenges remain. The likelihood of a sharp drop in aid post 2014 occupies attention. A pact made in Tokyo pledged around $4 billion per year in assistance to Afghanistan, but less than 50 percent has been delivered.   Part of the problem is lack of expertise at the local level to efficiently use this assistance, which will require a buildup of local government. Also, refugees returning from abroad and migrants from the countryside make Kabul the world’s fastest growing city. But this vulnerable population also creates insecurity. Without jobs no security is possible. There Read More

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