Memorandum submitted by Westminster Foundation
In mature and well-established democracies,
political conflicts are regulated and resolved peacefully, and
groups and individuals are free to pursue their interests within
a legal framework. Political stability is a pre-requisite for
individual and collective financial security and economic growth.
In many countries across the world, democratic
and civic institutions are poorly functioning and weakly structured.
This has often led to political and social instability in the
The role of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy
(WFD) is to promote democracy, the rule of law and civil society.
These three factors constitute the vital elements of stable and
secure societies. This goal is pursued in partnership with local
organisations, political parties and institutions.
WFD has also worked alongside DFID and other
organisations in seeking to strengthen civil societies in the
belief that this would provide a vital underpinning to the generation
of wealth in those societies.
The White Paper provides a comprehensive and
robust approach to what is one of the most challenging tasks facing
the world. The emphasis is on new or modified policy regimes in
affected countries, international investment and greater accessibility
to markets. The Paper rightly identifies political will as one
of the key factors in the poverty reduction strategy. The Foundation
has therefore been disappointed to find that the White Paper,
in concentrating on the alleviation of poverty, has taken the
focus off the importance of good governance. This, it considers,
should still be a primary target both in the medium and long term
to ensure that the fight against poverty proceeds against a background
of improving governance.
In the Foundation's view, "bad governance"
can create conditions which impoverish the populations of countries
which are not inherently poor. In Nigeria, for example, endemic
corruption within the structures of government and business life
has drained the country of economic vitality and retarded development.
WFD would have liked to see much greater emphasis
in the White Paper on good governance programmes and the development
of civil society structures. Success in the long term will be
possible only where accountable governments foster constructive
relationships with civic groups as reliable partners in the promotion
of sustainable development.
Westminster Foundation for Democracy