The Democratic Development Exercise: Terms of Reference and Analytical Framework
July 1, 1996
Nancy Thede in collaboration with Alain Bissonnette, Stéphanie Rousseau and Antonio José Almeida
available in Arabic (PDF).
1. The Approach
ICHRDD has carried out since 1993 a series of studies and workshops in several of its core countries as a basis for strategic decision-making regarding its activities. The studies were initially based on a “democratic development framework” developed by Mr. Edward Broadbent, President of the International Centre, and David Gillies, which has become in a sense a trademark of the Centre and, as such, has been widely discussed with other institutions involved in supporting democratic development initiatives. (1)
With the experience of five completed study-workshop processes and two others underway (2) and the external evaluation of three of the completed processes, a sufficient quantity of material has become available to undertake a critical assessment of the work to date and to formulate a more integrated overall approach on the basis of the lessons learned.
The Link Between Human Rights and Democratic Development
The idea of a necessary link between respect for the full range of human rights and the existence of an effectively democratic society was the major original contribution of the ICHRDD democratic development framework when it was first developed. Even now, despite much wider-spread acknowledgment of such a link by the international community, most partner organisations in the South continue to consider that link to be an innovative and useful approach for their own work.
Many other institutions – state and non-governmental, Canadian and international – have in the past few years also begun to dedicate specific resources to conceptualising approaches and executing programming in the field of human rights and democratic development. There exists thus a growing bodyof policy documents on the subject, although there is still little inter-institutional sharing and few attempts at constructing an overview. Moreover, there has been little attempt to construct a common vision of the problem: hence, each institution proceeds to define “democracy” from its own institutional perspective and priorities, so that the instruments and approaches adopted demonstrate a great disparity of concepts and criteria. Although the Centre’s approach will continue to be based on its priority to civil society in the democratisation process, and by its view of democracy as a social process and not simply a series of institutions, it sees itself as one participant amongst many on the international scene dealing with these issues. It therefore understands that this analytical framework should be treated as an invitation to discussion and debate, in a context where international organisations are beginning to call for a “common framework of understanding of the specific country context” in joint efforts to support democratisation (see OECD 1995).