Comments on Draft GN on ICTs for Governance and Conflict Prevention

We received the first draft of the guidance note that we have, jointly with BCPR, outsourced to an external consultant with a strong background on conflict prevention. The draft is here: GN 26 April Draft1 Copy WordDoc.

I shared the comments below with both BCPR and the consultant.

1. As mentioned in a previous message, the current draft is very weak when it comes to the ICTs for governance and inclusive participation (or inclusive governance, etc.) but very strong on the conflict side.

2. I think these issues stem from the fact that there seems to be some confusion regarding the core objectives of the GN. This is perhaps best reflected in the opening question or provisional title given to the note: How can ICT support democratic governance FOR conflict prevention. Preferably, the problem is: how can ICT support Inclusive governance AND conflict prevention.

3. In the current draft, the work UNDP has done in the last 20 years in ICTs for development and Governance becomes a footnote. Not surprisingly, the note has somehow taken conflict as the core argument leaving the rest on a second level. I am sure this is just a misunderstanding.

4. If we focus on the real question (both inclusive governance AND crisis) then we need to do at least three things:

4.1 Have an overall framework to place the seemingly unrelated issues (which as I see are actually strongly related)

4.2 Have background and analysis for each of the areas: ICTs for governance and ICTs for conflict, including real examples.

4.3 Have a section where we then provide concrete links between the two, bearing in mind that the core goal of the CoP if to build a single community of practitioners working in both areas.

5. As I see it, the broader field of work is inclusive or democratic governance (BTW, I suggest we avoid term definitions in the text as this can be contentious in many contexts, especially if we have to borrow from others!). One of the core principles of DG is the participation of people in policy and decision-making processes, something that today with the rapid diffusion of ICTs has become quite feasible. This, in principle, will lead to more transparency and accountability while ensuring that development investments are more in tune with people’s actual needs. This, in turn, will bring better development outcomes as supply will meet demand, etc. We can, in theory, get a virtuous development cycle, so to speak

6. This basic framework can then be brought to both ICT4DG and ICTs for conflict prevention (ICTD4CP), noting at the same time that the two areas are related. We should also avoid the idea that this is a geographical division. For example, conflict situations are present in many countries, at the local or regional level. Nevertheless, these countries cannot be defined as being in a state of conflict or crisis. “Contentious politics” seems to be a feature of the 21st century, etc.. It is in these areas, among others, that the two themes touch very closely. The GN should explore this more closely.

7. All of the above implies that we need to restructure the document. I suggest we (BDP/DGG) take the first shot on 4.1 and develop the first part of 4.2, on ICT4DG which includes e-governance and more

8. In terms of the current outline, it seems to me that we need a substantial section on practical Entry Points for COs. Let us bear in mind that the core issue here is to entice current DG and CP practitioners to make more extensive use of ICTs in their existing programming portfolios without them having to become ICT experts or programmers. For this to happen, we need more than just that a list of questions. A good example is this GN on governance in conflict situations:

(UNDP loves loooooooong URLs)

I have many other comments but will stop here for now.

Cheers, Raúl

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