DESA News Vol. 12, No. 02 February 2008

Publications and websites

Technical reports

World e-Parliament Report 2008 World e-Parliament Report 2008

On 28 February, DESA and the Inter-Parliamentary Union will release the World e-Parliament Report 2008. The report provides an overview of the emerging trends and common challenges in the use of ICT in parliaments and serves as a baseline for review of the further application of ICT to lawmaking, parliamentary oversight, and representation. It is intended to help parliaments assess the use of ICT in the day-to-day functions of the legislature while drawing upon the experiences of other institutions. The report is based on the findings of a worldwide survey conducted in the second half of 2007 to which over 100 assemblies and parliaments contributed.

An official launch will take place in New York during a meeting of the Board of the Global Centre for Information and Communication Technologies in Parliament, a joint initiative of DESA and the IPU established as part of the follow-up to the World Summit on the Information Society.

For more information:

World Urbanization Prospects: The 2007 RevisionWorld Urbanization Prospects: The 2007 Revision

Every two years since 1988, DESA’s Population Division has issued revised and updated estimates and projections of the urban and rural populations of all countries in the world and of their major urban agglomerations. The 2007 edition of the report, to be made available online, will be launched in New York on 26 February.

For more information:


Civic Engagement in Public Policies: A Toolkit Civic Engagement in Public Policies: A Toolkit

While many governments and civil society organizations have committed themselves to promoting public governance, there are few practical tools available to guide them. This title provides advice on programme formulation and evaluation for social mobilization along with step-by-step methods for implementation. Drawing lessons from successful cases around the world, the toolkit lays out concrete strategies for expanding public participation in policy-making, budgeting, and other areas of concern.

Civic Engagement is a product of DESA’s Division for Public Administration and Development Management. Publications sales no. 08.II.H.1.

To download:

Indicators of Sustainable Development: Guidelines and Methodologies, 3rd Edition Indicators of Sustainable Development: Guidelines and Methodologies, 3rd Edition

The new revised edition of Indicators of Sustainable Development has been produced in response to calls by governments for further work at the country level in line with national conditions and priorities. Since the last edition knowledge of and experience with sustainable development indicators has increased significantly while interest in measuring progress on sustainable development has grown.

The third edition includes a synopsis of international efforts to measure sustainable development, along with an overview of methodologies for 96 indicators that can guide countries in their adoption and application within specific national contexts. A subset of 50 core indicators is recommended. Detailed methodology sheets are provided in an accompanying CD-Rom and online. Produced by the DESA Division for Sustainable Development. Publications sales no. 08.II.A.2.

For more information:

Working papers

A Framework for Analyzing Tariffs and Subsidies in Water Provision to Urban Households in Developing Countries

This paper presents a basic conceptual framework for understanding the main issues and challenges relating to tariffs and subsidies in the water sector in developing countries. The paper introduces the basic economic notions relevant to the water sector, presents an analytical framework for assessing the need for and evaluating subsidies, and discusses the recent evidence on the features and performance of water tariffs and subsidies in different regions with a special focus on Africa. The discussion is limited to the provision of drinking water to urban households in developing countries.

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Building Capacities for Public Service in Post-Conflict Countries

This paper represents a nuanced contribution to the discourse on post-conflict reconstruction by focusing on some of the most fundamental and earliest elements to be addressed in the conflict/post-conflict/reconstruction spectrum, namely: constitutional enshrinement of the character of government institutions; political will and leadership; and the necessity of inclusive and participatory processes for the articulation of national aspirations followed by translation into an organizational structure for the new public service to fulfill them. Different concepts are presented side-by-side followed by in-depth descriptions by practitioners of how this has been achieved in a variety of post-conflict situations.

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Governance Strategies for Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Sustainable Peace and Development

This paper provides insight into governance challenges and suggests guideposts to assist government leaders in post-conflict reconstruction efforts. The author argues that although the specifics of post-conflict reconstruction activities depend on the challenges each country has to face, a sound mix of policies based on universal values and the proper use of management systems and tools are crucial. The paper outlines the determinants of effective strategy, emphasizing in particular the importance of a situation analysis to understand context and identify key elements of reconstruction plans. It further shows the need to be “peace sensitive” and “development oriented”, taking into consideration public policies and institutions that mediate relations between government, civil society, the private sector, and international actors.

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Political Decentralization in Africa: Experiences of Uganda, Rwanda and South Africa

This paper looks at political decentralization and assesses how successful it has been in promoting grassroots participation in decision-making. The practical reasons for devolution are discussed, along with issues in decentralized governance and institutional arrangements for public participation in local government. The paper relates the experiences of Uganda, Rwanda, and South Africa in an attempt to uncover cases where devolution has worked and where it has not.

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Democracy and its Electoral Challenges: The Case of Bangladesh

This paper describes the current successes and difficulties of post-1990 democratic governance in Bangladesh. While the country has experienced several developmental successes since 1990, its public institutions continue to encounter major democratic deficits. The paper argues that many institutional shortcomings – such as dwindling rule of law, endemic corruption, and lack of transparency and accountability – are most prominently attributable to poor leadership resulting from a struggle for influence between different parties. Political influence is also determined by the electoral process: who and how party nominations are obtained, how one gets elected, and by what means.

To download:

Outreach material

UN Enable NewsletterUN Enable Newsletter

DESA is pleased to announce the launch of UN Enable, a monthly electronic newsletter of the Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities intended to keep UN offices, NGOs, the media, and other interested parties informed about the work of the UN system on disability issues. The convention secretariat is located within the Division for Social Policy and Development.

To read and subscribe:

UN Statistics Division: Major Work Areas and AccomplishmentsUN Statistics Division: Major Work Areas and Accomplishments

The Statistics Division in DESA has produced a comprehensive brochure describing its work, accomplishments in advancing the global statistical system, and extensive product line.

To download:


UNPAN Online Training CentreUNPAN Online Training Centre

Registration for online training in public administration opens in February with a new interactive course. Learning the essentials of e-government has been made even easier with graphics that illustrate complex concepts, quizzes for reinforcing key points, and a glossary to facilitate the understanding of discipline specific terminology.

For more information and to register: