Author Archives: Guest

Is Local Government in Libya the Solution?

Heavily armed vehicles belonging to the military council of the self-declared autonomous region of Cyrenaica, which are deployed to protect oil ports, drive past at a checkpoint, near the east of the city of Sirte March 14, 2014. Former Libyan prime minister Ali Zeidan has fled to Europe after parliament voted him out of office on Tuesday over his failure to stop rebels exporting oil independently in a brazen challenge to the nation's fragile unity. The standoff over control of oil exports threatens to deepen dangerous regional and tribal faultlines in Libya where rival militias with powerbases in the east and west back competing political factions in the transitional government. Picture taken March 14, 2014.  REUTERS/Stringer (LIBYA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS ENERGY) - RTR3H6EP

Mahmoud Bader is CIPE-Atlas Corps Think Tank LINKS Fellow at the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED). This post also appeared on The Atlantic Council blog.

As Libya faces numerous challenges with the existence of federalists and militia groups, the question of decentralization grows in urgency. Libyans need to bolster local government in an effort to leave their past behind and meet their everyday needs, but lack the adequate legal and constitutional framework to ensure better governance. As Libya struggles to fill the remaining seats in the Constitutional Committee, it must also consider the language it plans to adopt to protect the decentralization process.

The move towards local governance emerged during the 2011 revolution when local councils arose to handle city affairs, an arrangement that continues today. Libyans welcomed the change. With the former regime centralized in Tripoli, citizens traveled inordinate distances from all over the country to complete tasks that they could have handled in their own cities, including basic bureaucratic services like stamps and signatures that could easily have been provided in other cities.

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Ukrainian Businesses Should Use the Momentum to Speak Up

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By Iryna Fedets

In Kyiv and in other cities across Ukraine, small and medium-sized businesses were a driving force in the recent protests that resulted in the ouster of former President Viktor Yanukovich and the formation of a new Cabinet of Ministers. Entrepreneurs personally participated in the pro-European Union movement, both on the streets and in financing the demonstrations and providing food and medical supplies.

According to a poll conducted in early February 2014, business owners made up about 17 percent of the protesters, although business owners only make up 4 percent of Ukraine’s overall population. Following the 2008 recession, the former government imposed changes in the regulatory and tax structure that increased corruption and raised the burdens on small business, which helped draw them to the streets.

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Achieving Inclusive Growth

By Dan Erwin Bagaporo, 2013 CIPE Blog Competition Winner. Read the other winning blogs here.

The Philippines has one of the fastest growing economies in the world, recently registering 6.6 percent GDP growth (second highest in Asia). However, few Filipinos experience its benefits, as 76 percent of this growth went to the richest 40 families in the country. While the government is doing its best to promote “inclusive growth,” 26 percent of Filipinos still live on less than $1 a day. As large companies swallow up wealth, many Filipinos are left out, especially the indigent, young, and elderly, who find securing employment difficult. A few years ago, I witnessed this tragic reality firsthand.

My friends and I went to visit an old retirement home for abandoned senior citizens. We were set to conduct interviews with residents for my friends’ thesis about geriatric loneliness. It turned out, loneliness was the least of their problems. Going around the compound, we saw that it was very ill-maintained. Corridors and rooms were dirty, and pungent. The retirement home was clearly understaffed and lacked necessary funding to maintain an acceptable standard of living for its residents.

After we left, I did some research and discovered that the retirement home has constantly been the recipient of numerous social programs, from food distribution to privately-sponsored Christmas parties. I also found that many other public retirement homes experienced the same situation. My question was: despite all of the largesse, why was the quality of life of residents in these retirement homes still poor? I must admit; it took me a while to answer this question.

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A Model of Peaceful Revolution

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By Madalina Maria Iancu, 2013 CIPE Blog Competition Winner. Read the other winning blogs here.

There are not many “peaceful” revolutions in the history of mankind, especially during the last decades of our modern history. Even if we think to join these two words — “revolution” and “peaceful” — it does sound a bit unusual.

This is the reason why I chose to write about this example of a totally atypical revolution, which happened recently in Iceland. In my opinion, the Icelandic Revolution is an example of the fact that a revolution doesn’t have to be violent and bloody but peaceful and civilized and with a positive approach things can be changed in order to improve the status quo and to create a better standard of living.

There were also other movements also called “peaceful,” as it is a new paradigm, but still…nothing like Iceland.

One of the characteristics that made this revolution so atypical is its duration. It all started in 2008, when the main bank of Iceland was nationalized, the currency of Iceland devalued and the stock market halted. The country was in bankruptcy. During 2008 – 2009 as a result of the citizen’s protests and demonstrations, both the prime minster and the whole government resigned. New elections were held. In spite of these changes, Iceland remained in a bad economic situation. 

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I Paid a Bribe, and Tweeted About It

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By Shrey Goyal, 2013 CIPE Blog Competition Winner. Read the other winning blogs here.

A few months ago, the Global Corruption Barometer 2013 by Transparency International (TI) told us that 47 percent of Indians think corruption is a serious problem in our public sector, and 68 percent feel the government is ineffective against it, with most corruption perceived to exist in political parties (86 percent), police (75 percent) and parliament/legislature (65 percent). It is evident that most Indians are perturbed by the presence of corrupt practices thriving in all nooks and crannies of the public machinery.

Not only is corruption rampant in India, it’s also remarkably visible and lacking in subtlety. In fact, for most Indians, corruption has always been a way of life. To think about it, I ended up paying a bribe no less than four times last week alone, and had to disperse massive amounts in cash to bureaucrats and their peons a couple of years ago just to make sure that my new business registration does not get stuck indefinitely for no discernible reason. And I am hardly alone: A 2005 study by TI found that more than 62 percent of Indians had a first-hand experience of paying bribes or influence peddling to get jobs done in public offices successfully.

According to some estimates, India has lost a staggering $462 billion in illicit financial flows since gaining independence in 1947, and the economic burden of corruption in the last decade is estimated at INR 1,555 thousand crore ($250 billion).

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Freedom of Information and Democracy

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By Hyeji Kim

We live surrounded by futuristic information technology ranging from Facebook and Google to wearable mobile gear. Yet, despite the gigantic leaps in technology for sharing information, many parts of the world still lack the right to share information at all. Reporters Without Borders have updated the World Press Freedom Index, measuring the level of freedom of information of both provider and recipient in 180 different countries. The indices show that many countries are behaving anachronistically by suppressing the media and journalists.

This kind of oppression takes many forms, ranging from censorship and legislative barriers to actual physical abuse and even abduction of journalists. The sources and causes for oppression vary greatly. Journalists are faced with assaults from all sides: the police, criminal groups, angered demonstrators, and devout political party supporters. In any case, different groups often see the media as a strategic target necessary to either achieve their political goals or cover their wrongful doings.

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Pathway to Accountability: “Accountapreneurs”

Participants at a recent Accountapreneurship event in Nepal.

Participants at a recent Accountapreneurship event in Nepal.

Narayan Adhikari is a CIPE-Atlas Corps Think Tank LINKS Fellow at the Accountability Lab

Two words always come to my mind when talking about accountability: “power” and “holders.” In principle, power comes from the people (the constituency). In a representative democracy, people are the source of power and they hold it by choosing their delegates through elections.

More often than not, however, the officials who get a mandate from the people hold power against the interests of electorate. Consequently, the power dynamic changes alongside the changes in attitudes, behaviors, and interests of the power holders. The cycle then repeats itself. For example; the recent constituent assembly election in Nepal resulted from the failure of the first assembly to promulgate a constitution.

For many Nepalese, democracy is a tool used to subjugate human beings to operate within certain norms, guided by the rule of law and constitutions. It only gives a framework, not an inclusive picture to judge and regulate the behaviors and relationships between individuals as members of a larger society. Democracy without accountability does not achieve equality, but rather degrades morality, integrity, and ethics. Accountability is more than just transparency and anti-corruption. It gives strength to democracy to be a foundation in society and to inspire people to become responsible citizens.

Today, corruption continues to be the biggest challenge worldwide. Corruption distorts development, undermines trust between citizens and government, and produces structural violence. Corruption also carries huge costs. The European Union spends close to 120 million Euros every year fighting corruption. According to World Bank, corruption is one of the largest “industries” with a scale of $3 trillion every year.

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