Countries in the region have made significant progress towards democratic governance and peaceful societies. They established independent civil services, local governments, and electoral systems; they modernized public services and expanded the rights of their populations. However, after a period of relative stability, indicators of democratic governance in the Europe and CIS region have recently shown declines in many countries.
While countries which aspire to EU integration mostly fall within the “partly free” category (66 percent partly free), the majority of countries in Eurasia rank at or near the bottom of Freedom House’s ratings for political rights and civil liberties (58 percent not free).
The 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index shows very slight improvements or declines in the level of perceived corruption in the region, yet Georgia remains the only country on the list of 50 least perceived corrupt countries. While the Balkans sub-region registered recent progress on women in politics, major challenges to women’s security and gender equality remain.
Governance institutions are struggling to address growing citizens’ demands for voice and disaffection with perceived corruption and failing systems. De facto implementation of commitments and reforms remains a major challenge, given insufficient capacities of governance, justice and national human rights systems. Citizenries are often ill-equipped to hold their representatives accountable. Highly sensitive boundaries, flows of capital and illicit trade of goods further weaken the rule of law and the resistance to corruption especially in the Caucasus and Central Asia.
Ethnic divisions and natural resource competition (particularly over water and hydro-electric capacity) represent the key conflict drivers in much of the region, exemplified by the situation in the Fergana Valley shared by Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. The recent crisis in Ukraine has raised risks and fears of contagion, and altered perceptions about the roles of various regional and global powers. Long-term conflicts over Nagorno Karabakh, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Transnistria, and Cyprus remain dynamic, many exacerbated by regional instability, and the impact of neighbouring crises (including Iraq and Syria) on Turkey and the region is another concern.
What we do
UNDP works with national and international partners to strengthen the social contract between the state and the society in a manner that protects human rights, promotes equality and enhances social cohesion. This includes:
- Advocating for openness, transparency and accountability of public institutions, and civil society strengthening
- Increasing citizen access to: justice, safety, information, basic services and public decision making
- Supporting the development of legislation, parliaments, local governance and public administration to protect the rights of people, particularly those with disabilities, minorities and other vulnerable groups
- Building efficient National Human Rights Institutions, and supporting the implementation of international standards and recommendations
- Strengthening security and justice institutions
- Ensuring national plans and institutions address risk, and help prevent and respond to violence and crises
- Supporting conflict prevention through national dialogue, local peace committees, and confidence-building activities
- Placing gender equality and women at the centre of governance and peace efforts
What have we accomplished?
Strengthened local governance capacity to deliver public services, and increased transparency and citizen participation in decision-making, is a hallmark of new platforms in Montenegro, FYR Macedonia, Croatia and Kosovo*.
In Armenia, up to 600 women have been trained on leadership at the local level.
In Serbia, the National Anti-Corruption Agency was enabled to train hundreds of public officials.
National human rights action plans were developed in Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
In Tajikistan, Ukraine, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kyrgyzstan, legal aid services reached tens of thousands of individuals (over 50% women) in 2014.
The Legal Aid Service in Georgia became an independent institution, and its mandate expanded on civil and administrative cases.
In Cyprus, the SCORE index, which measures attitudes towards peace, reconciliation and cohabitation in a given society, found that the community is at a crossroads.
Confidence building measures accompany improvements in basic service delivery and water governance in the Fergana Valley and in Abkhazia.
Over 300,000 small arms and light weapons, of which there were 110,000 in Serbia alone, have been destroyed in the Western Balkans as part of the highly successful sub-regional security programme (SEESAC) in South-East Europe.
* All references to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of the Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999).