Further reading

Reflection from Alex Shankland (IDS) on the actors of local democracy / informal authorities session:

The fascinating discussion in this afternoon’s F2F session reminded me of the work of my colleagues in the Collaboration for Research on Democracy (CORD) network, who recently published a book of case studies on ‘informal political mediation’. The book is called ‘Mediated Citizenship: The Informal Politics of Speaking for Citizens in the Global South’. The book is quite expensive, but the introductory chapter can be downloaded for free from the publisher’s website.

In this introductory chapter, the book’s editors Bettina von Lieres and Laurence Piper set out a typology of mediators that may be a useful complement to the list of informal authorities’ functions that we heard about from the SDC/Helvetas/Swiss Peace/IDS learning project team. The first of the categories proposed by Bettina and Laurence is ‘diplomats’, who move between marginalised communities and governments carrying information, but without necessarily creating accountability relations. The second is ‘educators’, who help to strengthen citizenship and the role of rights-bearers in accountability relations. The third is ‘captors’, who use their mediating role to capture power and resources for themselves, without themselves being held to account. As they themselves say, there are many other types of mediator, but these were the ones that emerged most strongly from the case studies in the book, which come from Angola, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Lebanon and South Africa. In the next phase of the DDLGN learning project, this typology may help us to think about how different kinds of mediation function can promote or block efforts to create a healthier ‘accountability ecosystem’.

CORD, the group that produced this book, was formed by a group of researchers from different countries who first worked together on the Development Research Centre on Citizenship Participation and Accountability (http://www.drc-citizenship.org). It is convened by Bettina (who is based at the University of Toronto in Canada) and Laurence (who is based at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa), and has several working groups, many of which – such as the ones on ‘marginalisation and service provision’ and ‘activists, institutions and change’ – are very relevant to some of the issues we have been discussing here in Pemba – you can find out more from its website.

Have a look at the three case study reports from the action research done for the learning project “Actors of local democracy – opening up the perspective. With whom and how to engage more in local democracy.”






Further reading

linkInterparliamentary Union

linkResources on political party legislation and finance

linkA database on political finance and an overview of the database

linkA handbook on money in politics and a policy brief on the same issue

linkA collection of best fit for practitioners with regards to multiparty dialogue, and a guide on dialogue in general (not necessarily linked to political parties)

linkA knowledge resource on women in politics

linkA database on gender quotas

linkA portal on parliamentary development in several languages

linkA good overview of parliamentary support, “Mind the Gap: Lessons Learnt and Remaining Challenges in Parliamentary Development Assistance – A Sida Pre-Study”

pdf-xsInternational Mapping

pdf-xsMapping SDC

pdf-xsPresentation 16.06.2015

Accountability – learning objectives

Day 1 and 2: Accountability

1. Introduction: Setting the frame

Learning objective:
  • The participants are informed about the key messages of the previous DDLGN learning project on citizen participation and social accountability
  • The participants know about the latest international debate and trends related to the accountability topic – broadening the scope from social accountability to a more systemic perspective.
key questions:
  • What are key definitions and concepts of accountability and how is this linked to the broader accountability agenda? For example: social, political, corporate accountability; or key pillars of accountability such as: transparency/information – answerability – responsiveness – enforceability; and: link to human rights based approach
  • What are major trends in supporting accountability initiatives and in addressing these issues in a more systemic perspective?
  • What are particular considerations/experiences in specific contexts, particularly situations of fragility and conflict (FCS) as well as countries with advanced capacities?
  • What is the debate about gender equality and inclusion aspects? What experience is available?

Expected results: Conceptual frame and actual international debate with regard to accountability is clear, and lays out the ground for informed discussion among peers on concrete implementation experience.

2. Peer exchange on accountability implementation experience

SDC is contributing to strengthen accountability relations among involved actors through a variety of activities, aiming at i) empowering citizens and amplifying their voice, ii) strengthening accountability relations between citizens and state institutions, iii) as well as between different state institutions, and iv) promoting key pillars of accountability, such as right to information, transparency, answerability, responsiveness, redress and sanctioning (enforcement). SDC works with a variety of involved actors namely citizens, civil society organizations, media, local authorities, and increasingly also with parliaments, and possibly more.

Learning objectives:

FIRST: The participants learn how OSA approaches accountability from a systemic perspective. Lead questions:

Approaches, Strategies:
  • How: What are main approaches, intervention strategies to strengthen key pillars of accountability (transparency/information, answerability, responsiveness, enforceability), that we are supporting with our programs; for example while supporting processes of public resource management / public service provision; or while supporting processes of decentralization etc.? What type of accountability responsibilities of the different involved actors do we support during such processes? (Those who have to render accounts and those claiming for accountability)?
  • With whom: What are key actors and their accountability roles we want to strengthen, with whom do we engage and how do we foster alliances between different actors?
  • Why: What do we want to change with our interventions?
  • Inclusion: How do we promote inclusive approaches: working with overlooked actors, gender dimension and disadvantaged groups
  • Context: What are important contextual factors that constrain our interventions? (E.g. Power structures, patronage/clientelistic relations, political culture, and existing social fabric, historical legacies). How do we address/overcome such challenges?

SECOND: Based on this, selected peers (panel) discuss about: Similarities and/or differences in other countries or regions and about other contextual challenges

Expected results: a) Different approaches and implementation challenges as well as success factors are shared. – b) Critical contextual factors and political economy considerations are spelled out. – c) Gender specific considerations are pointed out as well as mechanisms for strengthening inclusion of vulnerable groups.

3. Deepening discussions among peers, experts

Learning objective: Participants understand
  • What are the conclusions for my work? What is working in practice?
  • What does that mean for the role of SDC: How can SDC position itself as a donor in a process which carries the potential of being conflictual?
  • Remaining burning questions … 

4. Parliamentary assistance

SDC works with parliaments both on national and on sub-national levels. However, the area is still considered relatively new and there are no consolidated approaches to legislative assistance itself, as well as to embedding it into a wider governance and accountability context. The session will consist of both information presented to the participants and of peer exchange and discussions.

The main questions are:
  • What is parliamentary support and how does it relate to the key functions of parliaments: legislative, representation and oversight?
  • What are recent concepts and trends related to parliamentary support discussed on international level?
  • How is parliamentary support done by other donors, and how by SDC?
  • What can we draw from this and take SDC’s approaches further?
Learning Objectives

Participants become aware of and reflect upon the following issues:

  • Why do we support parliaments? How does this relate to a larger accountability and governance agenda?
  • What are main mechanisms of parliamentary support in relation to the functions of parliaments (legislative, representation, oversight), but also to issue-based support (i.e. post-2015 agenda, crisis prevention/recovery, anti-corruption, climate change, etc.);
  • Who are the main targeted actors of parliamentary support? How can gender and inclusion issues be addressed in this context?
  • What can be done to complement parliamentary support (e.g. electoral support, working with political parties, civil society support)?
  • How can cooperation with other donors be best achieved?
  • What are contextual specificities to be taken into account?

Expected Results: a) Participants are aware of various options for interventions in parliamentary support. – b) Participants are aware of the systemic nature and the interconnectedness of such interventions (connection and synergies to decentralization or, to civil society support programmes, etc.). – c) The peer exchange will lead to the identification of further learning needs and to recommendations for the further work of the network on this issue.