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Nov 23
The critical role of government

‚ÄčUNDP introduces a new guidance note on: Civil Service Restoration and Reform in fragile context. A product of a programm that is financed among others by Global Institutions within SDC:

Civil service restoration and reform is as much of a political process as it is technical. Based on this linkage, at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), our experience has shown that in order to promote a politically sensitive approach to civil service restoration and reform we need to draw on a series of precepts and lessons from the literature on political economy in fragile and conflict-affected settings. Some of these lessons include:

  • International assistance in low-income and fragile settings should be understood as non-neutral mediations by external and domestic actors, and should be approached in 'temporal' terms;

  • Political settlements should not be understood as stable conclusions that end periods of volatility, but more appropriately as unstable interim situations that reflect the positioning of domestic powers. Also, these should be viewed as subject to potential subversion by other actors, either dissatisfied with or excluded from the negotiated pacts and the distribution of resources;

  • Analysis of merit-based reforms in a variety of institutional settings suggests that agreements to reduce patronage in human resource practices in civil services occur mostly when the relative power and capacities of the less influential parties and stakeholders increases; and

  • The idealized goals often held by the international community for public administration may be laudable but are often unrealistic. Thus, a focus on achieving "good fit" rather than applying international "best practice" should be sought.

UNDP's recent guidance note "Supporting Civil Service Restoration and Reform" sheds light on salient issues and lessons learned from implementing support programmes as varied as civil service census and identification in Bosnia Herzegovina; emergency public service response in Central African Republic; de-ba'athification policy in Iraq; transfer of knowledge in Liberia; management capacity for public administration in Lebanon, and civil service coaching and mentoring in South Sudan, among others.

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