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POGAR > About POGAR > POGAR Overview

Welcome to UNDP-POGAR!

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Regional Bureau for Arab States (RBAS) launched the Programme on Governance in the Arab Region (POGAR) in early 2000. Recognizing the strong link between good governance and sustainable human development, POGAR aims to assist government actors, civil society, and the private sector to improve governance processes in the Arab states, always with a view to achieving sustainability. POGAR assists in a governance-augmentation process that is owned and managed by the countries themselves by offering an array of options, rather than blanket prescriptions, and working in partnership with actors in the region to identify needs and solutions.

POGAR's program activities relate to Rule of Law, Participation, and Transparency and Accountability. These activities include providing policy advice, engaging in institutional capacity building, and testing policy options through pilot projects. Since its inception, POGAR has launched projects to promote dialog about judicial reform; build the capacities of parliaments, and educate governance actors about methods for combating corruption.

Participation is the primary value underlying the themes of civil society, decentralisation, elections, strengthening of the legislature and the role of women in public life. Participation is a key component in human development as understood and pursued by UNDP. Literally, participation means taking part. All men and women should have a voice in decision-making that influence their lives, either directly or through legitimate intermediate institutions that represent their interests. Such broad participation is built on freedom of association and speech, as well capacities to participate constructively in expressing interests and in voting for representatives and leaders.

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Corresponding to the rule of law are the themes of human rights, the judiciary, and constitutions. Rule of Law entails equal protection of human rights of individuals and groups, as well as equal punishment under the law. It reigns over governments and protects citizens against arbitrary state action. It ensures that all citizens are treated equally and are subject to the law rather than to the whims of the powerful. The law should also afford vulnerable groups protection against exploitation and abuse. Governments must create institutions and frameworks in order to maintain law and order, to establish basic infrastructure, and to provide services such as health and education, particularly for the poor. Legal frameworks are also necessary for creating a predictable and secure living and working environment for ordinary citizens and for entrepreneurs and investors. A fair and effective legal framework requires that a set of rules be known in advance, that the rules be enforced, that the means to ensure the application of the rules exist, that any conflicts be resolved by binding decisions made by an independent and credible judiciary, and that procedures be available for changing the rules when they cease to serve the purpose for which they were intended.

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Transparency and accountability expressed in our themes of financial transparency and fighting corruption, work primarily through legislatures, civil society, and financial institutions, notably central banks. Transparency and accountability are interrelated concepts and mutually reinforcing. Without transparency there couldn't be any accountability. Unless there is accountability, transparency would be of no value. The existence of both conditions contributes to an effective, efficient and equitable management in public and private institutions. Transparency refers to sharing information and acting in an open manner. It allows stakeholders to gather information that may be critical to uncovering abuses and defending their interests. Transparent systems have clear procedures for public decision-making and open channels of communication between stakeholders and officials, and make a wide range of information accessible. Accountability: UNDP defines accountability as the requirement that officials answer to stakeholders on the disposal of their powers and duties, act on criticisms or requirements made of them and accept (some) responsibility for failure, incompetence or deceit. Mechanisms for holding officials accountable can be inter-organizational, as between branches of government; intra-organizational, as between supervisors and subordinates; and extra-organizational, as when an organization and its functionaries answer directly to customers or stakeholders. Accountability mechanisms can address the issues of both who holds office and the nature of decisions by those in office.

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