Social Accountability in a Changing Region-Actors & Mechanisms
Based on Deliberations of the Arab Governance Week, November 26-29, 2012, Cairo, Egypt
In June 2011, in response to these events, UNDP organized the international forum Pathways to Democratic Transitions which opened the discussion on some of the key governance challenges expected in times of transition. These included ensuring the integrity of electoral processes, addressing the needs for transitional justice, and supporting constitutional dialogue, all steps to uphold the key principles of social justice and equity. As a follow up to the international forum, the Regional Centre in Cairo (RCC) supported and continues to support many specific events and activities to assist country offices and national partners to address those important governance needs.
A year and a half later, the Arab Governance Week (November 26-29, 2012) presented an opportunity to assess and support the move towards social accountability. Organized in close collaboration with OHCHR, UNWOMEN, IDEA and ANSA AW, it brought together 240 participants from 17 Arab countries, with delegates representing governments (including 8 sitting Ministers), civil society, sitting judges, academics and the media, as well as UNDP country offices from the region. By convening such a diverse group to discuss the practice of accountability in the Arab Region and the role of various actors in furthering accountability relations in these turbulent times, UNDP has played a strategic role in brokering knowledge and facilitating multi-stakeholder dialogue about the future of governance in the region.
The role of governance data and human rights monitoring through the Universal Period Review (UPR) process, as mechanisms for enhancing accountability relations, was explored in great depth and recommendations for action by various actors were developed. Governance assessments can play an important role in the introduction of democratic values and principles at various levels of society during the transformation process towards democratic societies. Perceptions about UPR should also be adjusted to recognize it as a process of accountability to the people, which opens the door for effective collaboration between the state and civil society.
The Governance Week also reflected UNDP’s commitment to South-South cooperation by sharing the knowledge and experiences from Arab countries, and from Kenya, Malaysia, Armenia, Croatia, Macedonia and Ukraine, fostering strategic partnerships for future joint activities. The Governance Week also included a specific focus on knowledge exchange, outreach and communication. Governance-related knowledge products, printed materials, videos, publications, and poster exhibition, were showcased at the Knowledge Exhibition.
This report is based on the key messages drawn from the deliberations of the event, as well as background papers commissioned prior to the event and other relevant UNDP policy documents.