Power and Politics Lecture given by Duncan Green Head of Research at Oxfam GB Notre Dame University, September 2009Part of a series of From Poverty to Power lectures.
Main messages Rights and dignity are a crucial part of development and well-being Achieving these requires involvement in power and politics Ability to exercise rights requires access to essential services, information and knowledge Active citizenship, including civil society organization, is essential to development Democracy is beneficial on both intrinsic and instrumental basis Effective states play a central role in development
And rights are about power - PictureDevelopment is about rights
Development is about rights Rights are long-term guarantees that allow right- holders to put demands on duty bearers Capabilities = rights + ability to exercise them Involves crucial shift from treating poor people as ‘beneficiaries’ to seeing them as active agents Rights = lawyers and scholars; development = economists and engineers
And rights are about power Power within: personal self-confidence Power with: collective power, through organisation, solidarity, and joint action Power to: the capability to decide actions and carry them out Power over: the power of the strong over the weak
First build the people… Education, healthcare, water, sanitation and housing are basic building blocks of a decent life Education: need improvements in both quality and quantity (esp. for girls) Health: maternal mortality as example of gender and wealth-based inequalities Control over fertility is both a rights and health issue The state must be central to provision
Then ensure access to knowledge andinformation Steady improvements in access to knowledge, e.g. radio, mobiles, internet Technology holds enormous potential But current incentives bias R&D against the needs of the poor And intellectual property rules act as a barrier to technology transfer (pharmaceuticals, biopiracy)
And the right to organise Increasing range and complexity of civil society organizations Role of CSOs as catalysts and watchdogs Intrinsic and instrumental benefits of CSO involvement Civil society activism waxes and wanes Civil society is very involved in decentralization processes
How change happens:winning women’s rights in Morocco
How change happens:winning women’s rights in Morocco 2004: Moroccan parliament approves new Islamic family code that strengthens women’s rights Changes driven by Union de l’Action Feminine, working within Islam, e.g. quoting Koran Counterattack from conservative activists and clerics Women’s movement used insider-outsider tactics - petitions and marches to fend off conservatives King formed commission which led to law change
Property rights matter Property rights matter to poor people Women often excluded from full rights to property Many systems of property rights, e.g. customary law Role of property rights in development: important but not a panacea (de Soto) and can have negative impacts
The importance of land reform toequality and growth
Democracy works Spread of democracy was a feature of the 20th century Democracies – Produce more predictable long run growth rates – Produce greater short term stability – Handle shocks much better – Deliver more equality Democracy in many countries is ‘exclusionary’, with flawed party systems and patronage politics But for most people remains the ‘least worst’ alternative
Democracies in the world100 Start of Great Depression9080 End of World War II7060 Collapse of Berlin Wall5040302010 0 1800 1820 1840 1860 1880 1900 1920 1940 1960 1980 2000
Corruption is often linked tonatural resources Corruption is both a cause and effect of poverty Impact on development varies (10% v 100%) Active citizens can curb corruption, while rich countries and corporations must also put their houses in order Natural resources can undermine the social contract between state and citizen But some countries have managed natural resource wealth well (e.g. Botswana, Malaysia)
States are at the heart of development(and growing in importance) Nation states play a core role in providing essential services, rule of law, economic stability and upgrading Weak or absent states are often worse than bad ones, but can be turned around, often after a ‘shock’ Looking at East Asian tigers, successful states: – Govern for the future – Promote growth – Start with equity – Integrate with the global economy, but discriminate – Guarantee health and education for all Taxation is central to the citizen-state relationship Globalization and orthodoxy make building effective states harder
Dilemma: are Effective States ompatible with Active Citizens?
Dilemma: are Effective Statescompatible with Active Citizens? Social Pacts between citizens and states are at heart of many development success stories (eg Scandinavia, Chile) But selection bias means we don’t think about states that are now developed In early stages many nation builders are undemocratic (e.g. East Asia, Germany) But autocrats often fail and society now is less tolerant of ‘benevolent dictators’ We need active citizens to exercise rights, effective states for growth and services. Task is to combine them as quickly as possible in a country’s development.
Further Reading on the Blog Fragile States and Paul Collier’s latest book, ‘War, Guns and Votes’, http://www.oxfamblogs.org/fp2p/?p=326 Taxation and State-Building, http://www.oxfamblogs.org/fp2p/?p=235 How can effective states emerge in Africa? http://www.oxfamblogs.org/fp2p/?p=163 Fixing Failed States (book review), http://www.oxfamblogs.org/fp2p/?p=47
Further Reading From Poverty to Power, Part 2 Geoff Mulgan, Good and Bad Power, 2006 Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom, 1999 Hernando de Soto, the Mystery of Capital, 2001 Matthew Lockwood, The State They’re In, 2005 Publish What You Pay US is on http://www.publishwhatyoupayusa.org/templates/S ystem/default.asp?id=39924