Memorandum submitted by One World Action
1. One World Action wishes to concentrate
this submission on the impact of the Department for International
Development's work on promoting good governance and democracy
and the relationship between this and its macro-economic policy.
2. The British Government is committed to
fostering democracy and respect for human rights. Democratic,
transparent and accountability government at every level is the
corner stone of sustainable and equitable development and progress
towards a world in which all women, men and children can enjoy
and exercise their full human rights.
3. The Department for International Development
Target Strategy Paper, Making government work for poor people
- building state capacity sets out a strategy for building
the capabilities of the state so that governments have the "capability
to create the economic conditions and services necessary for poverty
reduction". There is a clear recognition that the quality
of government is critical to the achievement of the Millennium
Development Goals. One World Action welcomes DFID's commitment
to making government work for the poor.
4. DFID has a well developed and respected
record within the fields of democracy and good governance. However
work remains to be done to ensure that adequate resources are
allocated towards programmes which strengthen democratic, transparent
and accountability government at both local and national levels,
and which support and strengthen civil society organisations.
Secondly much remains to be done to ensure greater consistency
between DFID's work on governance and democracy and work in other
areas, particularly macro-economic policy.
5. Throughout the developing world confidence
in the state is at a low ebbpeople feel disconnected from
their governments and trust is lacking. A key challenge for the
21st century is the construction of new relationships between
people and the institutionsespecially those of governmentwhich
affect their lives. Previously strengthening civil society was
seen as an alternative to a series of apparently unsuccessful
attempts to make governments more responsive. It is increasingly
evident that building (or re-building) relationships between citizens
and their governments means going beyond "civil society"
or "state centred" approaches to focus on how citizens
and state intersect and engage, through new forms of participation,
responsiveness and accountability. The active engagement of poor
women and men is essential, but changes to administrative structures
and procedures, laws and political processes are also required
to produce more responsive and accountable governments.
6. Fundamental to deepening democracy at
every level is the need to transform decision-making and political
systems and structures to enable more equitable representation
and participation of the poorest women and men. Two parallel,
and mutually reinforcing, changes are necessary: getting greater
numbers of women and members of marginalised groups into decision-making
positions, and at the same time, transforming the culture, structures,
and organisation of decision-making and political life. In this
way democracy can be strengthened and become a process for progressive
change. Key to these changes is women and men having the right
and the opportunity to participate politicallyand here,
as the Target Strategy Paper points out, access to information,
a free and effective media, a politically active civil society,
and inclusive and fair election processes are vital.
7. Democracy at the local level is critical
to democracy nationally (and internationally) and to making government
work for poor women and men and their communities. We would argue
for much greater attention to be paid to building democratic governance
capacity at the local level. Local government, if skilled, genuinely
democratic and accountable, and sufficiently empowered and resourced,
can be a real guarantee of quality service provision to the poorest
communities, and lay the foundations of democracy at national
8. A strong civil society is an essential
component of democratic decision-making and good governance. Southern
development NGOs, trade unions, women's organisations, human rights
organisations, farmers associations, community movements, and
the media have important roles to play in ensuring greater consultation
and participation on policy decisions, programme design and planning
and implementation. In all its development co-operation DFID should
recognise this role and allocate significant resources towards
building and strengthening citizen's movements and other civil
9. We would argue for significant resources
to be allocated towards strengthening democratic culture at the
local level, through support for capacity building in responsive
and accountable governance of local government officials and representatives,
right to information legislation, and public scrutiny processes.
We would also want to see resources targeted towards programmes
of citizenship education and programmes which build the mobilising,
analytical, advocacy and alliance building skills of citizen's
movements, trade unions, women's organisations, and other civil
10. The 2000 White Paper on International
Development, Eliminating world poverty: Making globalisation
work for poor people recognises that what economic growth
is an indispensable requirement for poverty reduction it is not
enough by itself. "Pro-poor growth" it states "requires
growth and equity". Regrettably the White Paper is short
on proposals on how to ensure growth is sustainable, and on mechanisms
to ensure the benefits of growth are distributed with equity.
11. A central role for government is to
stimulate economic growth through its management of the economy,
but also to manage available economic resources to help the poor.
The urge to have market-friendly government has to be balanced
by poor-citizens-friendly government. Macro-economic policy is
not free of political assumptions, values and choices; neither
is it gender-neutral. The lessons of the stabilisation and structural
adjustment programmes of the 1980s and early 1999s cannot be forgotten.
The question of how resources and wealth are distributed is still
largely overlooked and with it the gender, class and other differentials
in control of economic resources, like land, and access to education,
training and credit. Despite the shifts in World Bank and IMF
thinking about the role of government in managing economic affairs,
there is still a worrying commitment to mainstream neo-liberal
economics, and especially blanket trade liberalisation the impact
of which could jeopardise progress in other areas, such as investment
in basic services and strengthening democracy.
12. It is important that rapid and demonstrable
progress is made towards the consistency of policies promised
in the British Government 1997 White Paper on International Development,
Eliminating world poverty: a challenge for the 21st century.
This stated that "We shall ensure that the full range of
Government policies affecting developing countries, including
environment, trade, investment and agricultural policies, takes
account of our sustainable development objective."
13. We would like to see emphasis on governments
building the capacity to design and implement macro-economic policy
which is sustainable, equitable, gender-sensitive and pro-poor,
which takes a sensitive and sophisticated approach to trade liberalisation,
privatisation and regulation and is responsive to local and national
differences. Such economic policy is more likely to give priority
to employment-intensive economic development and to investment
in services. The British Government, and DFID in particular, have
an important role to play in enabling and supporting government
capacity building in this area.
14. DFID needs to ensure that adequate resources
are allocated towards programmes which strengthen local and national
democracy, transparency and accountability through:
changes to administrative structures
and procedures, laws and political processes, including processes
of public scrutiny; and
enhance the mobilising, analytical,
advocacy and networking capacity of citizens' movements, women's
organisations, trade unions, and other civil society bodies.
15. DFID needs to work for demonstrable
progress in the area of policy consistency, paying special attention
to removing the inconsistency between its policy on making government
work for poor people and its policy on macro-economics.
16. DFID could play a greater role in enabling
and supporting Southern governments to improve their capacity
to design and implement macro-economic policy which is appropriate,
sustainable, equitable, gender-sensitive and which enhances their
country's chances of achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
One World Action