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Democracy matters for the post-2015 development agenda

February 06, 2014

This week, on 6–7 February 2014, the issue of democratic governance will be addressed by the UN Open Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the UN Headquarters in New York. Simultaneously, the office of International IDEA’s Permanent Observer to the UN is co-organizing two side-events on the role of democracy in the post-2015 development agenda and how to measure democratic governance.

Speaking at both side-events will be Margot Wallström – International IDEA’s Chair of the Board of Advisers and former UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict. She argues that “democracy belongs firmly within the Post-2015 development agenda, both as a stand-alone goal and as an enabler of development.”

Measuring democracy

The first side-event (6 February) – “Measuring Democratic Governance: The Art of the Possible” – is co-hosted with the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the Permanent Mission of Mongolia to the UN. It will examine possible ways of measuring the strength of democratic governance in countries in both the North and the South, and how to track its progress over time within the post-2015 development agenda and new SDGs.

The early case of Mongolia clearly illustrates the possibility of a stand-alone goal on governance, something that has been called for in various post-2015 development discussions: Mongolia added an MDG 9, a voluntary goal to advance human rights and democratic governance in that country. International IDEA was able to contribute to the process of developing this goal on the basis of its experience with supporting citizen-led assessments of the quality of democracy.

At the event HE Ambassador Od Och, Permanent Representative of Mongolia to the UN, will share experiences, lessons learned and further developments on this goal.

Margot Wallström will elaborate the concept of citizen-led assessment of the state of democracy at the national and local level.

“The important thing is that citizens and countries themselves decide what indicators they wish to develop to measure their own democracy,” she says.

Post-2015 development agenda

The second side-event (7 February) – “Democracy, Governance and the Post-2015 Development Agenda” – is co-hosted with the Permanent Missions of Botswana and Sweden to the UN.

Key issues to be addressed include, i) the importance of democracy and democratic governance both as a goal in itself, and as an enabler for political sustainability of the new SDGs framework; ii) democratic governance can be, and is being, measured; iii) integrating democracy/democratic governance indicators in the new framework, building on concrete country experiences.

The UN’s Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson will provide the closing remarks at this event.

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