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." The challenge for all countries is to develop institutions and processes that are more responsive to the needs of ordinary citizens, including the poor.
Since the launch of the doi moi reforms in 1986, Viet Nam has made impressive gains in human development. Apart from halving head count poverty since 1990, improvements have been made in a wide range of areas related to the well-being of the population. But while the country continues to advance towards the achievement of many of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), socio-economic disparities - across groups and regions - are becoming increasingly apparent. As acknowledged in national plans and strategies, overcoming such disparities will require a sustained effort to improve governance structures and systems.
Governance for the poor
UNDP has a long-term presence in Viet Nam and remains well placed to support the country in the area of democratic governance. It enjoys the respect and close relationship of the government and other development partners, and, consequently, it plays an important role in enhancing donor coordination and the overall policy dialogue on political, administrative and financial reform.
In line with the Millennium Declaration, UNDP’s support in the area of democratic governance is geared towards advancing the basic concepts of accountability, transparency and people’s participation. This requires a holistic approach and ensuring the realities people face at local levels are reflected in policy advocacy. Partly for this reason, there is a strong emphasis on the decentralisation of powers and resources to the local level.
UNDP’s three core areas in democratic governance:
- Public administration reform, emphasizing mechanisms to increase people’s participation and improve accountability with government budgets and services to the poor.
- Rule of law and access to justice, including further support to legal and judicial reforms especially as they seek to enhance legal safeguards and justice mechanisms for the poor
- Parliamentary development, focusing on enhancing the capacity of the National Assembly and People’s Councils to exercise their core functions and represent the interests of the poor