More countries than ever before are working to build democratic governance. Their challenge is to develop institutions and processes that are more responsive to the needs of ordinary citizens, including the poor. UNDP brings people together within nations and around the world, building partnerships and sharing ways to promote participation, accountability and effectiveness at all levels. We help countries strengthen their electoral and legislative systems, improve access to justice and public administration, and develop a greater capacity to deliver basic services to those most in need.
Democratic governance is central to the achievement of the MDGs, as it provides the ‘enabling environment' for the realization of the MDGs and, in particular, the elimination of poverty. The critical importance of democratic governance in the developing world was highlighted at the Millennium Summit of 2000, where the world's leaders resolved to "spare no effort to promote democracy and strengthen the rule of law, as well as respect for all internationally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to development." A consensus was reached which recognized that improving the quality of democratic institutions and processes, and managing the changing roles of the state and civil society in an increasingly globalised world must underpin national efforts to reduce poverty, sustain the environment, and promote human development.
UNDP's work in democratic governance is reinforced by its network of over 166 offices and its global partnerships with democratic governance institutions.UNDP's core services to support national processes of democratic transitions, focus on: (1) Policy advice and technical support; (2) Strengthening capacity of institutions and individuals (3) Advocacy, communications, and public information; (4) Promoting and brokering dialogue; and (5) Knowledge networking and sharing of good practices.
In response to the South African Government's comprehensive programme of improving performance of state services, the corresponding UNDAF goal is to build institutional capacity at all levels to deliver quality basic social services, particularly to the most vulnerable and marginalised groups. Derived from this programme mandate UNDP focus its governance and capacity development activities in the following areas:
- Strengthening Capacity for Strategic Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation
- Strengthening Capacity for Implementing the IGR Act
- Strengthening Capacity for Participatory Governance
- Strengthening Capacity Diagnostics
- Strengthening Knowledge Services and Learning
- Promoting Advocacy for the MDGs, human rights and gender
- Strengthening Partnerships for Development
Within the context of its Governance and Capacity Development mandate the focus of UNDP activities falls within the UNDAF Governance Cluster. However, UNDP also has a powerful mandate to coordinate joint UN interventions, activities and programmes and to strengthen the coherence of the UN country team. In fulfillment of its institutional mandate, UNDP will further offer technical gender, human rights and MDG advocacy support in UN country programmes.
The primary role of UNDP in the other four clusters is, therefore, focus on facilitating, coordinating and supporting the specialized work of the agencies that have clear operational and programmatic comparative advantages in the economic, social, justice and international relations sectors.