Democratic GovernanceBy building the capacity of local governments, UNDP supports a more efficient, accountable and transparent state. UNDP programs aims to enhance the government's ability to best represent and serve the people. Photo: UNDP Bangladesh

Our support to democratic governance in Bangladesh aims at strengthening the government’s institutions in fulfilling their mandate. Through policy support, knowledge sharing and capacity building, UNDP enhances the state effectiveness and its ability to best represent and serve the citizens. All programs are designed with an inclusive, people-centered, and pro-poor approach.

Improving access to justice

The Judicial Strengthening project, known as JUST, works to improve access to justice, especially for disadvantaged and vulnerable groups. JUST supports the Government of Bangladesh in implementing key changes to ensure rapid treatment of the cases brought to justice and creating friendlier spaces for justice seekers. Moreover, the Justice Sector Facility (JSF) project is aiming at developing a more holistic approach to budgeting and planning for the justice sector, through a better communication, coordination and cooperation of key judicial stakeholders. In the rural areas, village courts have been established to empower citizens to resolve their disputes locally in an expeditious, transparent and affordable manner, without the burden and costs associated with higher courts. So far, 350 village courts have enabled the resolution of an impressive 20,103 cases.

Building democracy

To ensure Bangladesh’s elections are fair, credible and transparent, the Strengthening Election Management in Bangladesh (SEMB) project builds the capacity of the Election Commission to become a permanent, professional, credible and independent institution of governance. It builds on the major electoral reform process, which started in 2008 and is now continuing. As of 2012, 92 million citizens have been registered on the voters list, the most inclusive, accurate and completely biometric voter list in the history of Bangladesh. To store securely and efficiently this newly gathered information,401 server stations have been built through the country.

 To further consolidate Bangladesh’s democratic system, UNDP works closely with the legislators in the Improving Democracy through Parliamentary Development project. It is committed to improve the Parliament’s legislative capacity, and its democratic practices through important reforms. At the local level, leaders and communities have received training to enable more accountable, transparent and inclusive Upazila administrations and Union Parishads administrations.

 The creation in 2009 of the National Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh was a turning point, as it is called to serve as the major national human rights watchdog, monitoring implementation of state obligations to respect protection and the fulfillment of the rights of every citizen of society. The National Human Rights Commission Capacity Development project is a step towards establishing it as an effective, efficient and credible organization.

Guidance for efficient services to citizens

UNDP supports as well the Government of Bangladesh’s reform initiatives through the Civil Service Change Management Programme, by providing on-demand assistance across the board to the Bangladesh Civil Service (BCS). It provides guidance to the BCS in managing and exploiting emerging opportunities for change and innovation. Notably, an interactive platform (known as the Second Generation Citizen’s Charters Initiative) was launched to create a dialogue between citizens and civil servants to improve the quality of the services, standards, accountability and transparency at the local level. The police sector undergoes reforms as well to transition to an effective and service-oriented police organization, sensitive notably to gender equality and capable of better engaging with the community.

 In the spirit of continuously increasing transparency, and to reduce the time, difficulty and cost of obtaining government services for under-served communities of Bangladesh, UNDP has supported the Access to Information (a2i) project since 2007 and is now entering in its second phase (a21 II). It aims to catapult Bangladesh into the digital age, by enabling the government to transform the public service delivery through a range of e-services, from simple SMS services on mobile phones to entire walk-in e-service centres. It is understood that 20 million citizens will be able to access government e-solution services by 2016 as an output of the programme.