The Democratic Alternative from the South

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Each year on September 15, the UN observes the International Day of Democracy to celebrate efforts to promote and consolidate democracy around the world.  Despite these efforts however, the realization of consolidated democracy continues to be a struggle for many reformers.  This year, the UN has chosen a theme of “Engaging Young People in Democracy” and acknowledges that “study after study show declining faith among young people…with declining levels of participation.”  Compounding this declining faith in democracy is a rising ideological competitor in the form of economically successful authoritarian regimes.

As much as young people are recognized as dreamers and agents of change, these characterizations tend to be the result of youth wanting to see an improvement in their quality of life.  In emerging countries such improvements are often delivered through economic growth, and in cases such as China and Singapore youth populations can honestly say their standard of living has gotten better year after year.  These examples can lead youth to become disillusioned with democracy, especially at a time when the world’s major democracies are suffering the aftereffects of a major financial crisis. Meanwhile, in the developing world, kickstarting growth in democratic regimes often takes time due to a need to build consensus and develop proper policies.

Quality of life, however, is not measurable only in terms of indicators such as income levels, consumption, and GDP — though almost all of the world’s most prosperous countries are democracies.  Other, arguably more important aspects such as human rights, liberty, and freedom are also vital components.  Since 2012, CIPE has been part of a consortium seeking to analyze the development paths of three emerging democracies (India, Brazil, and South Africa) in order to create an argument in support of democratic development.

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Help Us Choose the Winners of the 2014 Global Editorial Cartoon Competition

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Cartoons can speak across languages and cultures, and provide personal insight into universal challenges facing citizens around the world. In honor of International Day of Democracy, CIPE is pleased to announce that public voting is now open for the 2014 Global Editorial Cartoon Competition.

Cartoonists from 67 countries who submitted more than 350 entries to this year’s Global Editorial Cartoon Competition. CIPE’s panel of judges selected three finalists in each of the three categories: Democracy, Transparency, and Corruption. These nine finalists hail from Russia, Syria, Turkey, Uzbekistan, El Salvador, Indonesia, and Myanmar.

Your votes will help us determine the final winners in each category! Submit your votes here.

Public voting will close at 5:00 PM EST on Friday, September 26, 2014.

Leveraging Partnerships for Impact

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Earlier this week the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Corporate Citizenship Center’s conference The Impact Equation: Stronger Business, Greater Results, Better World gathered business and non-profit leaders committed to sharing innovative solutions on how to achieve positive change in communities in the U.S. and around the world.

This year’s event focused on results. As the Corporate Citizenship Center’s Executive Director Marc DeCourcey put it, “In today’s world, companies must ensure that every dollar spent is meaningful, that every employee volunteer opportunity is worthwhile, and that every investment shows a return. Companies must ensure that their work is driving measurable, lasting impact.”

Great speakers – including Arthur Brooks, President of the American Enterprise Institute, Stan Litow, President of the IBM Foundation, and Carolyn Berkowitz, President of the Capital One Foundation – emphasized that point throughout the conference.  The focus on results was also reinforced by a study presented by Global Impact, Giving Beyond Borders: A Study of Global Giving by U.S. Corporations, showing that effectiveness in producing results is by far the most important factor influencing corporate partnerships with non-profits.

Here are a few other highlights from that report that I found particularly interested from the Center for International Private Enterprise’s perspective centered on international projects:

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Anti-Corruption Compliance in Kenya

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Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index ranks Kenya in a distant 136th place. That low ranking confirms the sentiment often encountered in Nairobi: corruption is widespread in many aspects of life, from bribing a policeman to avoid charges for alleged traffic violations to graft at the highest levels of government, as poignantly described by a British journalist Michela Wrong in her book about Kenyan whistleblower John Githongo, It’s Our Turn to Eat.

Not surprisingly, many segments of the Kenyan society are fed up with the status quo and ready for change. That includes many companies in the private sector that see their growth potential and competitiveness stifled by the highly corrupt environment. Such companies are not waiting for the government to clean up its act and instead are taking the initiative to limit corruption through setting up or strengthening internal compliance procedures.

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Empowering Everyday Folks through Economic Journalism

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It is when citizens are well-informed, equipped with facts, and capable of conducting independent analysis that they can better engage in the policymaking process. Access to information at every level is the backbone of an active citizenry that can come together to keep government honest, responsible, and accountable. In Kyrgyzstan, however, most journalists lack the analytical skills to report well on crucial economic issues, and citizens lack the necessary understanding of core social and economic realities (and values) that are needed to keep a democracy in place 365 days a year. This lack of information not only undermines the population’s ability to support basic market-based democratic reform, but detracts from their ability to engage in the development of their country – of their village, of the region, of the nation at large. It is with this in mind that CIPE partner the Development Policy Institute (DPI) began their work several years ago to improve mass media’s capacity to inform the public on economic concepts during Kyrgyzstan’s fragile period of transition to market-based democracy with protected property rights and rule of law.

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Local Level Governance in the Philippines and Nigeria

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Government officials in towns, cities, states, and regions across the globe are often the first point of contact for citizens, civil society groups, and businesses seeking assistance in addressing a myriad of local challenges. Regional authorities are responsible for tax collection and are accountable to citizens for the stewardship of public finances. Local public officials are most familiar with the economic, social, and political challenges of their jurisdictions and are most adept at addressing these concerns through the delivery of public services and the passage of appropriate legislation. Often, solutions to problems can be found more quickly by engaging the appropriate local level authorities rather than waiting for the adoption of national level legislation. For these reasons, reforming local level governance is often the most effective way to strengthen democratic and economic conditions in a given country.

Local ownership of projects and a focus on local level and grassroots initiatives have been key components of CIPE’s work.

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A Guide for Anti-Corruption Compliance: The New Imperative in Global Value Chains

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This post originally appeared on Corporate Compliance Trends.

In many countries, fighting corruption seems to be an impossible battle, especially for mid-sized companies with limited resources. While there is a broad global consensus that corruption suppresses competition and innovation, thus hampering entrepreneurship and economic growth opportunities, countering it presents a challenging task due to resistance to reform in corruption-tainted business environments. In many cases anti-corruption rules and regulations may be weak or unevenly enforced, government-led steps to fight corruption remain insufficient or ineffective, and bribes are a widely accepted part of doing business.

Yet businesses committed to anti-corruption are not helpless. They can lead by example by improving their own safeguards against corruption and act together to create a movement for integrity that makes clean business conduct the norm, not the exception.

In today’s globalized world, where international value chains stretch across borders and continents, anti-corruption compliance provides a vital competitive advantage. Ethical companies tend to have higher valuations, are more attractive to potential investors and employees, and are more likely to be engaged in long-term arrangements with their business partners. Increasingly, companies are expected to ensure not just the integrity of their own operations but also the conduct of their suppliers, distributors, and agents wherever they may be. Evidence of this comes from high-profile prosecutions of multinational firms that are not only subject to significant fines but also risk loss of share value and reputation.

CIPE’s newest publication, Anti-Corruption Compliance: A Guide for Mid-Sized Companies in Emerging Markets, is meant to help local companies around the world think about anti-corruption compliance as a strategic investment and take concrete steps to introduce or strengthen their internal compliance programs. Going forward, the guidebook will serve as the basis for CIPE training and capacity building initiatives for businesses in countries ranging from Kenya to Pakistan and Ukraine where, despite persistent challenges, many companies already are a part of global value chains or aspire to join them. In order to be competitive, they need tools outlined in the CIPE guidebook to translate their commitment to integrity into the day-to-day business operations. Stay tuned for the country updates!

Click here to get the guidebook.

Anna Nadgrodkiewicz is Director of Multiregional Programs at CIPE.