Our Perspective

      • 10 Killer Facts on Democracy and Elections | Duncan Green

        26 Jul 2013

        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 qualityRead More

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

        22 Jul 2013

        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: theyRead More

      • Rule of law key to maintaining development gains | Magdy Martinez Soliman

        19 Jul 2013

        12,000 police officers have received basic police training in Somalia. Photo: UNDP in Somalia

        For the first time in history, the possibility of eradicating poverty is a reality. The number of people living in extreme poverty has fallen across every developing region over the last 12 years. Yet, we face considerable challenges to human development largely shaped by growing inequalities within countries. Bad governance, poor health, low quality education, the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation continue to be the drivers of universal poverty. The rule of law is essential to address the current threats to progress on human development. No country affected by widespread conflict or fragility has achieved a Millennium Development Goal target. Effective security and justice systems are necessary to facilitate transitions out of fragility and conflict and to prevent violent crime. Moreover, the rule of law as the principle of governance that no one is above the law reinforces accountability to the law and establishes checks on power that reduce abuse of authority and corruption. Of course, the relationships between the rule of law and human development are complex and multi-faceted. The challenge will be to develop measurable targets and indicators for the Post-2015 framework that resonate within diverse country contexts and enable the political and social action at theRead More

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