Building Democratic Institutions: Governance Reform in Developing Countries

Building Democratic Institutions: Governance Reform in Developing Countries

Building Democratic Institutions: Governance Reform in Developing Countries

Building Democratic Institutions: Governance Reform in Developing Countries


• Brings together a wide variety of recent scholarship on democratization processes

• Draws from original case studies the world over, including Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Arab Region and Eastern Europe

• Written by a seasoned practitioner at the forefront of practice and theory

Building Democratic Institutions bridges the gap between theoretical literature and the actual tools and practices needed to strengthen or rebuild democratic institutions and reform governance systems. Through original case studies and contemporary examples of good practices of governance, Cheema clarifies the links between governance, democracy, and human development and assesses the conditions that make democracy work.

A senior Advisor on Governance working with the United Nations and an Adjunct Professor of Politics at New York University, Cheema displays in this book the depth of his experience as both theoretician and practitioner. He examines institutional designs and practices concerning such core issues as strengthening parliaments, electoral management bodies, and judicial systems; combating corruption; and reinventing governance in crisis situations. Undergraduates, graduate students, and professionals will gain from his insight into the value of inclusive democracy and the innovations that promote responsiveness and accountability for an able, free, and just society.


Over the past 50 years, the world has experienced many positive changes—the end of the Cold War, the impact of information and communication technologies on the way individuals and nation-states interact, the recognition of global public goods such as environmental improvement and the protection of human rights, global reach of the civil society to promote the interests of the poor and vulnerable groups, and concern for gender equality. These positive changes, however, have been accompanied by widening income gaps between the rich and the poor, inadequate access of the vast majority in developing countries to such basic services as shelter, water and sanitation, primary health care, and economic opportunities; increased intra-national conflicts, drug cartels, and trafficking of human beings. Terrorist and extremist organizations, as exemplified by the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, pose the most serious challenge to peace, security, and personal safety.

Many of the above changes are influenced by globalization, a dominant force in the twenty-first century. It has led to a greater and faster increase in the exchange of goods and services, greater access to knowledge, shrinking time and space, and the emergence of new actors, tools, and rules. It is providing new opportunities for economic activities, technological advancement, and human development. However, many developing countries have not been able to benefit from the opportunities provided by globalization.

How does a country effectively respond to these changes and take full advantage of the new opportunities provided by globalization to improve human development? It is argued that effective, transparent, and accountable governance at the local, subnational, and national level enhances the collective capacity of the country to face the challenges of the twenty-first century. Countries that attract higher levels of investment and trade are those that have relatively better government systems—where rules and policies are predictable, where law and order is maintained, where the governments invest in human capital including in health and education, and where property rights are protected. Governance is the process through which actors from the state, the civil society, and the private sector articulate their interests, exercise their rights and obligations, and mediate their differences. It has three interrelated dimensions—political, economic, and social.

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