Tag Archives: transparency

Bringing New Ideas and the Local Private Sector Voice to International Discussions

On December 18-22, 2017, CIPE will be speaking at the upcoming UN Internet Governance Forum, a multi-stakeholder conference that promotes dialogue on varying internet policies at the international level. CIPE will be providing a unique view to the international forum, bringing voices of the local private sector to dialogues on internet governance and internet freedom.

In order to view the panel discussions and participate online, please register as a remote participant using this link.

At the forum, CIPE, the Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) will be releasing the final draft of A Democratic Framework to Interpret Open Internet PrinciplesThe Framework is the first of its kind, as common human rights principles for open internet are now reframed for citizens and civil society organizations in fragile and emerging democracies. The Framework, written by the diverse voices of local and multinational organizations, citizen activists, media representatives, civil society organizations, and members of the local private sector, highlights how an open internet is crucial for protecting and preserving democratic dialogue online.

For additional information about CIPE’s initiative, please visit openinternet.global.

Democracy that Delivers #95: Cadasta’s Frank Pichel Explains How Land Rights Impact Modern Economies

From left: guest host Anna Kompanek, podcast guest Frank Pichel, and host Ken Jaques

It is estimated that more than 70 percent of land in emerging economies is held informally, meaning without proper documentation. In this new podcast, Cadasta Foundation  Interim CEO Frank Pichel explains the vital role of land rights within modern economies and how Cadasta is leveraging new technology to strengthen and formalize land tenure systems in developing nations. Pichel, who co-founded the non-profit organization just two over years ago, says Cadasta now works with partners in Africa, Latin America, South Asia, and Southeast Asia.

CIPE Global Programs Director Anna Kompanek shares additional insight and describes other key projects aimed at addressing property rights issues, as well as related infrastructure or institutions such as access to finance and dispute resolution. CIPE has partnered with the International Real Property Foundation to create the International Property Markets Scorecard. The scorecard maps out the ecosystem of property markets in more than 30 countries to highlight strengths, weaknesses, and possible areas for future reform efforts.

Want to hear more? Listen to previous podcasts at CIPE.org/podcast.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or on your Android device.

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Supporting Colombia’s Peace Process: Monitoring Economic Regulation and Transparency in the Use of Post-Conflict Resources

Colombia’s peace process aims to bring about reforms that will benefit agricultural families in post-conflict zones.

Introduction by Tim Ridout:

Colombia’s 2016 Peace Accord between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) made headlines throughout 2016 as it was in the final stretch of negotiations and eventual adoption on November 30, 2016. Although it has since attracted less attention in international news, the ratification of the agreement simply marked the completion of one step in the process. Since then, Colombia’s government, politicians, business community, and civil society leaders have been hard at work implementing the next phase in the accords, which seeks to bring rapid reforms and concrete gains to the Colombian people so they see the benefits of peace, particularly in the zones most affected by the conflict or previously controlled by the FARC. The key is to fill the vacuum quickly to prevent turmoil. Improved economic opportunity has been central to this effort, as have reforms to issues that fueled the conflict, such as coca production, land rights, and corruption.

Blog by Víctor Saavedra:

CIPE has joined forces with Fedesarrollo, Colombia’s primary think tank, in order to complete two objectives. The first is to monitor the extraordinary powers that the president has been given to issue rules that will implement the peace accord signed in December 2016; the second is to do an analysis of the public procurement system in the country and recommend how to more transparently administer the post-conflict resources (which in 2018 will reach nearly one billion U.S. dollars).

Regarding monitoring, Fedesarrollo has published two analyses thus far: one about regulation of a major land reform law (Decree 902 of 2017) and the other about substituting coca cultivation (Decree 896 of 2017). The land reform decree, which implemented one of the primary points of the Peace Accord, affected the processes for assigning, restoring, sanctioning, and regulating the rights of use and property regarding land. The business associations, primarily from the agricultural sector, had serious questions about the rule, which led to debates in the country.

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Democratic and Market Values Face Obstacles in Poland

The Committee on Defense of Democracy stages a protest in Warsaw on December 19, 2015.

After the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe in 1989, Poland became a poster child for democratic and market-oriented transition. While the necessary reforms were difficult and often painful to the average citizen, they did deliver political freedoms and rapid economic growth, reversing decades of totalitarian oppression and decline. Poland became a respected member of the European Union (EU) and a model for other countries in the region. Despite persisting challenges typical for transition countries, such as youth unemployment, the overall institutions of democracy and a market economy appeared solidly in place.

This began to change rapidly after the 2015 elections when the Law and Justice Party (PiS) candidate won the presidency and the party gained a majority of seats in the parliament. Inspired by the policies of Victor Orban and his party in Hungary, PiS began a rapid push to challenge Poland’s democratic institutions—from the Constitutional Tribunal to public media. However, unlike the Hungarian Civic Alliance (Fidesz), PiS does not possess the constitutional majority necessary to pursue such systemic changes, which put it on a collision course with Poland’s judiciary and civil society, as well as EU institutions.

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A Call for Democratic Re-engagement

Protest in Warsaw, Poland. Photo by Lukasz Kaminski.

Every year on September 15, the United Nations’ International Day of Democracy offers an opportunity to reflect on the state of democracy and the challenges facing it. This year’s theme spotlights the need to strengthen democratic institutions against a backdrop of increasing disparities of economic opportunity.

In Central and Eastern Europe, those disparities have become more prominent in recent years, heightening the need to re-examine assumptions about the region’s transitions. Although the region made great strides in building democratic institutions and growing market economies over the course of two decades, the quality of—and support for—democracy has started to decline. Corruption has become a way of life in Hungary, where the government doles out public money based on political loyalty and friendships. In Poland, the government has exerted undue influence over the judiciary system, depriving citizens of their fundamental democratic freedoms.

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Promoting Government Transparency and Empowering Citizens through Open Data

Young participants at the Code for Good Hackathon for Girls Who Code in New York (via Flickr)

As our lives become increasingly digitized, governments must respond to calls to make information available for public consumption on the Internet. Proponents of open data advocate for the release of information collected by governments in formats accessible to all citizens. But what is open data, and how can it help people make sense of their world?

Governments routinely collect facts affecting constituents and regarding a variety of topics including health, the environment, and the economy. According to Open Knowledge International, a global non-profit committed to empowering civil society to harness the power of open data for social impact, data is considered “open” when it is accessible, reusable, and available to all. It is not enough for governments to partially release data or limit its distribution. Instead, for a government to be truly open, datasets must be published in full, in machine-readable formats, and on a central, accessible online platform. Governments should also publicize the release of data, rather than publish information silently. Data.gov, a website administered by the U.S. government, is an example of a government making data publically available online. The website’s information is organized into 14 categories including climate, health, education and public safety.

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Associations Play an Important Role in Improving Ukraine’s Business Climate

CIPE expert Nataliia Kobylchak (left) and Mykolaiv coalition member Iryna Yerofeyeva (right) at CIPE’s M-Test training in Mykolaiv, Ukraine.

By Nataliya Zhuhay and Caroline Elkin

As in any state ruled by law, local government officials in Ukraine are obligated to work within the framework of existing laws when developing regulations. But in practice, the regulations they create often act as obstacles for entrepreneurs to run their businesses. These flawed regulations can be poorly written, full of holes that corrupt officials can exploit, or do not correspond to existing laws. Until recently, such regulations did not take into account the costs they imposed, for example, on the café owner who wants to open a summertime terrace—or for that matter, any other basic entrepreneurial activity.

In December 2015, Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers adopted a resolution requiring all legislators to calculate the cost of implementing regulations for small businesses. This procedure is known as the M-Test. Although the resolution seems to represent a victory for Ukrainian business owners, many challenges remain. First, previously adopted regulations are not subject to the M-Test. Secondly, officials are not required to examine existing regulations for their corruption potential. Thirdly, the State Regulatory Service of Ukraine is unable to change problematic regulations because it can only make recommendations. Thus, only the courts are capable of compelling local governments to withdraw or change regulations. In practice, though, entrepreneurs are reluctant to pursue such matters in court, preferring instead to keep their heads down. As a result, the conditions for doing business on the local level discourage entrepreneurs rather than encourage them.

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