THIS IS WHAT UNDP
PREACHES TO ARAB COUNTRIES
ABOUT GOOD GOVERNANCE, TOLERANCE, HUMAN RIGHTS & FIGHTING CORRUPTION
Governance in the Arab States
The 2004 Arab Human Development Report, Towards Freedom in the Arab World, identified several key challenges to good governance in the region. These include public administration systems that do not fully meet the needs of citizens, shortcomings in institutional accountability, constrained opportunities for people to participate in the decision-making processes affecting their lives, and in some cases the lack of enjoyment of fundamental rights such as citizenship and gender equality. Add to this a regional and international context that often presents barriers to reform, and the challenges to good governance are indeed formidable.
Amid such constraints, however, events in many Arab countries-including Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, and Yemen- at the end of 2010 have demonstrated an increasing demand by Arab people for the reform of governance institutions and processes in a way that allows people greater freedom, increased opportunity and equitable development. Such reforms include credible electoral processes; rights based parliamentary legislation, effective parliamentary oversight, rule of law and equitable access to justice, and integrity of public servants and private enterprises. UNDP works in the Arab States with governments, the private sector and civil society to support these processes, strengthening the capacity of institutions and individuals to protect human rights, enhance social cohesion and expand public space for dialogue between governments and citizens.
Over the past few years, the region has witnessed a steep rise in human security threats of dramatic scale and intensity as a result of decades of occupation, protracted internal conflicts that are often enmeshed in regional and international conflicts and unresolved issues of power and wealth sharing. These crises have devastating effects, ranging from massive displacement, deprivation, poverty and systematic human rights violations. In the Arab region, an increasing number of UNDP country offices are operating in uniquely fragile environments directly affected by recently ended conflict.
Programme on Governance in the Arab Region
At the request of Arab governments, the Programme on Governance in the Arab Region -POGAR- supported key regional and national governance institutions to address governance needs and concerns, with the aim of enhancing good governance practice and governance reform in the Arab world. POGAR’s activities ranged from promoting policy dialogue and creating strategic partnerships, to capacity building and knowledge sharing among government officials, civil society organizations, academics and donor agencies. POGAR worked with a large array of Arab national and regional partners, as well as other UN agencies and international donors to promote pillars of good governance including rule of law, transparency and accountability, participation and human rights.
Other Governance Initiatives in the Region
In partnership with the Arab Inter Parliamentary Union to assist and support parliaments in the region, UNDP focuses on the role that parliaments can play in crisis prevention and recovery and strengthens their capacity to legislate for, oversee and represent communities in support of peace, reconciliation and long term human development.
Sixteen Arab states have signed and ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). The League of Arab States has issued a few weeks ago the first official pan-Arab anti-corruption instrument. This effort which started in 2002 has finally culminated in the issuance of the Arab Convention against Corruption. In 2010, UNDP launched a regional project on Anti-Corruption in the Arab countries (ACIAC) which resulted in the adoption and implementation of concrete anti-corruption measures in at least eight Arab countries and the endorsement of the ACIAC Project by high-level delegations from 17 Arab countries. Training methodologies and products on anti-corruption assessments were completed and contributed to raising awareness among stakeholders and promoting their effective use to inform UNCAC.
Local Governance in Conflict Countries
In the Arab region, UNDP works with many partners to enhance political economy and conflict sensitive analyses in order to inform programming on public administration and local governance, electoral support and parliamentary strengthening, enhanced human rights, integrity and gender equality.
Local Governance in Conflict Countries - UNDP has proposed “tension analysis” as a methodological tool to enhance conflict sensitive programming and to orient programming strategies towards focusing on relations and processes not only infrastructure, delivering services locally without bypassing local networks and enhancing accountability and resilience on the local level.
The overall objective of UNDP support to elections in the region is to foster credibility, transparency, effectiveness as well as sustainability of electoral institutions and processes, with a particular emphasis on inclusive participation and women’s empowerment. UNDP follows a cycle approach not an event approach to electoral assistance, i.e. sustains its support in between election events for long term institutional development.
Most Arab countries are signatories to several UN conventions and all have an obligation to submit reports in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Focusing particularly on social and economic rights and South-South experience exchange, UNDP's three lines of action include: supporting the strengthening of national human rights systems (e.g. capacity assessment of national human rights institutions); mainstreaming human rights into development programming; and promoting greater engagement with the international human rights machinery (e.g. support to implementation of UPR recommendations).
Legal Empowerment Of The Poor
The Legal Empowerment of the Poor initiative in the Arab region attempts to create a comparative knowledge platform focusing on the informal sector and its empowerment, practices of judicial activism in defense of social and economic rights and experiences of civil society and investigative journalism in support of voice and representation to collectively protect social and economic rights of the poor. Three national consultations in 2009-2010) highlighted the issues of informal economies in the Arab region which absorb all unemployed youth and women. Those regional consultations asserted the need for the protection of social and economic rights in an environment that respects civil and political rights as key to combating of inequality and exclusion.
Responsive Social Service Delivery
UNDP’s commitment to support countries achieve the MDGs highlights the importance of public institutions that are capable of delivering services effectively at national and local levels. However, technical capacity is not enough to guarantee equitable delivery of the MDGs to all, especially vulnerable groups not usually captured by aggregate statistics on MDG progress. Making service providers and public agencies more accountable and responsive to citizens promotes inclusive growth and human development.
□ Voice and Accountability (V&A) - UNDP documents ways in which V&A mechanisms can be employed at the local level in the Arab region to improve service delivery.
□ Gender Sensitive Service Delivery - In collaboration with UNIFEM (part of UN Women), UNDP produced in Arabic a guide to gender sensitive service delivery to be used in sensitizing national partners working on developing nationally owned indicators for better service delivery that is sensitive to women’s needs and experiences with providers of services.
Governance at the Country Level
UNDP is committed to responding to government demand to implement national-level projects that respond to the governance challenge in Arab states. Initiatives to strengthen governance on the national level are implemented within the framework of the strategies of Country Offices, and in collaboration with national and international partners including governments, civil society, and other United Nations agencies. Two key areas of activity are institutional strengthening and decentralization.
Our country-level work on institutional strengthening comprises a number of initiatives for parliamentary development, electoral reform and judicial reform. We are working along with the governments in North Africa, Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq Jordan and the Gulf. In Egypt, we are promoting development through nationally owned indicators building parliament capacity to develop strategies for promoting economic development through trade.
Decentralization, on the other hand, is a long-standing commitment that has yet to fully materialize in the region – decision-making remains quite centralized in nearly all Arab States. UNDP is committed to helping Arab States decentralize by supporting changes such as the institutionalization of local elections, modernization of legislation at the municipal level, and reform of national legislation for enhanced capacity and responsiveness at sub-national levels, allowing for local governments to better deliver the services needed for human development at the local level throughout the region. This includes local governance and area development in Yemen & Syria.
Legal Empowerment of the Poor
Support to social and economic rights of informal sector employers and employees is underway through our support to diagnostic studies of the informal in Syria and Jordan.