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Day One: February 20, 2024

Session 1: 17:00 - 18:30

Peace and Political Development

Session Moderator:

          - Dr. Ali El-Din Hilal - the Arab Republic of Egypt

Main Discussant:

          - Dr. Constantinos Adamides - Cyprus


A- Government Management Efficiency and Development

          1- Sir Tony Baldry - the United Kingdom

          2- Dr. Muhammad Al-Rumaihi - Kuwait

B- Popular Participation and Development

          3- Dr. Arben Cici - Albania

          4- Dr. Moataz Salama - the Arab Republic of Egypt



A- Government Management Efficiency and Development

1- Sir Tony Baldry - the United Kingdom


We are living in a world that is under huge stress.

A world which is seeing a dramatic fall back into poverty.

A world where faith in multilateral institutions such as the United Nations is fading.

Why should countries have confidence in the UN when all too often one or other of the permanent members of the Security Council vetoes a UN Resolution for their own particular policy objective.

We live in a world where the climate is heating up, conflict is spreading, and the prospect of pandemics is ever present.

In 2015, the world gathered to agree the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  The SDGs were intended to be a development framework for people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership for development to be achieved by 2030.

This universal framework linked the aims of investing in people’s health and education, attacking poverty, building prosperity and jobs that are commonest need, supporting peace and security and protecting our planet.

We are now at the half-way point for the Sustainable Development Goals, and they are seriously off track and the impacts of climate change and nature loss are accelerating.

Only 15% of the SDG indicators are due to be met.

There is a number of reasons for this:

The COVID-19 pandemic significantly set back development progress.

Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine increased energy and food prices and insecurity around the world.

An increasing number of countries are in severe debt, unable to access affordable finance to grow their economies.

Conflict is increasing in many parts of the world.

The development gains of recent decades are now under threat of reversal.

Latest figures show that 701 million people remain in extreme poverty, predominantly in sub-Saharan African countries.

The slowdown has been caused by weak economic growth, but also by energy and security conflict, loss of nature and environmental degradation.

The impacts of climate change and nature loss are being felt by everyone everywhere.

Extreme weather, sea level rise and eco system collapse are accelerating.

With the impacts felt most acutely in developing countries.

It is estimated that climate change and biodiversity loss will increase food prices by 20% for billions of low-income people.

Climate change and biodiversity loss further compound risks of insecurity and instability and drive migration, which in turn creates further instability and insecurity.

Around the world, we see an increase in conflict state fragility.

In 2022, there were 55 violent conflicts across the world, and an almost 100% increase in deaths on the previous year (97%).

It goes without saying that the human costs of such conflict are high and rising with sadly women and children being particularly affected.

In 2022, conflict and insecurity were the most significant causes of high levels of acute food security for around 117 million people in 19 countries.

Up to two-thirds of the world’s extreme poor will live in fragile and conflict-affected countries by 2030.

Humanitarian needs are, shockingly, at their highest since the end of the Second World War.

Approximately 360 people needed humanitarian assistance in 2023.

Twice as many as five years ago.

It is estimated that 80% of humanitarian need is driven by conflict.

Geopolitical contestation is at its most intense since the end of the Cold War.

Nearly ¾ of the world’s population now live in countries with an autocratic regime.

Convergence and cooperation between powerful authoritarian states is fundamentally challenging the present international order, and there are other factors that prey on any conflict or instability.  Such overlapping threads include terrorism, violent extremism, cybercrime, serious and organised crime, illicit finance and kleptocracy.

Vulnerable countries tend to have high and rising debt which adds to their vulnerability and poses significant development challenge.

Nearly 60% of low-income countries are already in or at high risk of debt distress.

Added to this are demographic changes that will add pressure on many developing countries.

Most of the world’s population growth will come from Sub Saharan Africa and some countries in Western Asia.

The population of Sub-Saharan Africa looks set to more than double to 2.8 billion people between 2020 and 2060.

And of course, rapid population growth simply increases the challenges or providing sufficient services, jobs and opportunity and tackling and adapting to climate change.

To put such population increase into context, by 2030, i.e. at the end of this decade, universal education across Sub Saharan Africa will require an estimated 4.3 million additional primary school teachers, and 10.8 million additional secondary school teachers.

We live in a world where the negative impact of climate change will intensify as temperatures rise.

Anyone who doubts the reality or impact of climate change should recognise that between 2000 and 2020, i.e. the last twenty years, almost 7,500 extreme weather events were recorded across the world, taking 1.23 million lives, affecting 4.2 billion people and causing nearly $3 trillion-worth of economic losses.

This is huge.

The reality is that unless effective action is taken on climate change, storms, drought, floods, heat stress, glacial melt, wildfires and rising sea levels will increase, with the impact felt in all aspects of our lives from health to conflicts, and migration.  And, of course, we will have to recognise that:

·       small island developing states,

·       least developed countries, and

·       fragile and conflict-affected states

are disproportionately impacted by climate change.

Climate change affects hardest the poorest and the weakest in our world.

Increasingly severe and frequent weather extremes will add to humanitarian need.

Food insecurity linked to extreme heatwaves affected 98 million more people in 2020 than it did annually between 1980 and 2010.

Temperature increases from climate change will cause significantly higher GDP loses in developing countries.

Without action, an extra 100 million people will be at risk of being pushed into extreme poverty by 2030 and 720 million by 2050.

Climate change and conflict lead to forced displacement of migration.

By the end of 2022, there were almost 110 million forcibly displaced people, refugees and internally displaced and stateless people across the world.

Conflict, climate change and lack of economic opportunities are causing rising migration.

Illegal migration puts a strain on communities and increases the financial burden on transit and destination states.

Four in five people in need live in a country experiencing a protracted crisis in 2022 and people in need estimates have more than doubled over the last five years.

I was born in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War.  The creation of the United Nations following the Second World War was a global attempt to seek to ensure that we never again had a similar world war.

The UN Charter has as its core the importance of sovereignty, territorial integrity, the political independence of nations and universal human rights for all individuals.

In recent years, however, we have seen increasing lack of accountability for violations of international humanitarian law.

Parties to conflict are increasingly disregarded, ignoring norms and rules designed to protect civilians in conflict and prevent mass atrocities, often preventing people’s access to humanitarian aid, and thus increasing the severity of need.

International norms on human rights are also being eroded.  This is particularly the case for women and girls on their sexual and reproductive health and rights and all too often rights for LGBT communities and religious or belief minorities are being undermined.

The tragedy is that this increasing global fragility follows decades of tremendous progress.

The UN Millennium Development Goals, agreed in 2000 to be achieved by 2015 brought rapid change.

The goal to halve the number of people in extreme poverty was met ahead of schedule.

Life expectancy improved from 50 to 65 in low-income countries.

Health outcomes and education access improved worldwide.

New HIV infections declined rapidly.

Hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of extreme poverty since the middle of the 20th century.

Many countries have grown their economies and resilience but as I think is clear from the statistics I have given, that progress is stalling and stalling seriously.

What is to be done?

Firstly, I would suggest that all the permanent members of the Security Council need to ask what can be done to restore authority to the United Nations.

No permanent member of the Security Council is blameless here.

When I was a member of the UK House of Commons, I voted against the US and UK invasion of Iraq, for two main reasons.

Firstly, I had seen no evidence of weapons of mass destruction and secondly a particular invasion of a sovereign country had absolutely no authority from the United Nations.  It was then difficult for the United States and the United Kingdom to complain about the conduct of other permanent members of the Security Council if they themselves had simply ignored the UN and International Law when it has suited them.

There are many in other parts of the world who ask what is so different between Russia invading a sovereign state without justification and the United States and the United Kingdom invading a sovereign state without justification.

It is difficult to think of a single conflict or crisis in recent years in which the United Nations has played a major part in resolving.

If we needed a body such as the United Nations in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, we need such a body even more now, and we need that body to be effective, respected and supported.

We then have to recognise that no country, or no particular system of Government, has a monopoly in alleviating poverty.

Over the last forty years or so, China has lifted more than 800 million people out of poverty.  That is a staggering statistic.  But it is, however, important the China’s domestic initiatives complement multilateral efforts rather than undermine them.  No one country can meet the world’s development needs and we all need to listen to developing countries.

For most developing countries, money is very important.

However, money comes from many different sources – peace and security, states that are effectively governed, private sector investment, remittance, domestic resources and trade revenues – all contribute towards a country’s income and potential self-reliance.

But new forms of finance are doubtless needed to help deliver the sustainable development goals and to respond to the challenges of climate change.

There need to be major reforms to the international financial system.

Reforms that will help countries access more resources, respond to climate change and other shocks, and provide those countries with more voice in decisions.

There are a whole host of international declarations to this effect, amongst others:

·       The Bridgetown Initiative;

·       The UN Sustainable Development Goals stimulus;

·       The Nairobi Declaration; and

·       The Paris Agenda for People and the Planet.

A quantum leap is urgently needed in the amount of international finance and private sector capital that goes to low- and middle-income countries.

An estimated nearly $4 trillion is required each and every year to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals. 

We need to reform the international financial institutions and we need to mobilise more private capital to lower and middle-income countries.

There is significant opportunity to scale up the volume of finance available from the Multilateral Development Banks by implementing the recommendations of the G20 Review of MDB Capital Adequacy Frameworks (CAF). This set out recommendations for how the MDBs can stretch their balance sheets by taking more risk, using their existing capital whilst maintaining their AAA credit ratings.

In October, the MDBs stated that measure that they had identified could potentially yield around $300-$400 billion of additional finance over the next decade but there is still much more that can be done.

For example, a reduction in the World Bank IBRD Equity to Loan Ratio from 20% to 19% unlocked $40 billion of additional finance and a further reduction to 18% could free up even more.

The World Bank has now engaged on reform, with a stated mission to “create a world free of poverty - on a live-able planet”.

We also need to see the IMF evolve to meet the needs of the poorest countries.

There is also a need and an opportunity to mobilise more private capital, both at home and internationally, to help deliver the Sustainable Development Goals and support action on climate change.

The stock of private institutional capital is estimated to amount to $98 trillion worldwide, with just over $48 trillion in pension funds in OECD countries.

Redirecting just a fraction more of this towards low- and middle-income countries would far exceed in scale the financing from public and multilateral sources of finance.

I suspect that a very significant proportion of savers and those with pensions in countries such as the United Kingdom wish to see those savings and their pensions being used to support the delivery of Sustainable Development Goals and have a beneficial impact on people and the planet.

More needs to be done to build a stronger pipeline of bankable projects, especially in low carbon climate resilient infrastructure.

The World Bank estimates there is an existing pipeline of $1.2 trillion for sustainable infrastructure projects in lower and middle-income countries but this is far short of the $3.9 trillion that is needed annually through to 2030 to meet the Sustainable Development Goals.

New vehicles are needed to channel finance to lower and middle-income countries which meet the requirements of institutional investors.

There are also considerable pools of savings within lower and middle-income economies which can be more productively mobilised, including over $1.4 trillion of institutional assets in Africa alone.  Mobilising every source of money is going to be crucially important if we are to successfully tackle global poverty.

What countries cannot do is simply rack up ever-increasing debt in the hope that they will be bailed out by the IMF, or that countries such as China will give debt forgiveness, as Sri Lanka has recently discovered.

And just as we need to all take very seriously the need to invigorate the United Nations as an effectively forum for promoting real peace, so too do we need to take seriously the warnings of the International Monetary Fund that the world is edging towards a “nuclear war” that risks “annihilating” free trade as we know it and the benefits of free trade.

The “growing fault lines” in the global economy, such as the tensions that now exist between the United States and China, and Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine, have created permanent shifts in the way in which countries do business.

This has led to fragmentation.  Fragmentation sadly, after decades of globalisation, which had actually brought closer trade links between countries.

There is a risk of the global economy splitting into two blocs.  One dominated by the United States and Europe in the West, and the other, led by China and Russia in the East.

The economic costs of such an economic cold war could be large, and could threaten Net Zero and food security.

The IMF warn that losses could amount to between 2.5% and 7% of global Gross Domestic Product. (GDP).

This is potentially a huge sum. 

We are already seeing direct trade links between the world’s biggest economies being severed.

For example, Mexico has applied to replace China as America’s top trading partner and in 2022, some 3,000 trade restrictions were imposed globally around the world – three times the number imposed in 2019.

If we are not careful, we are going to see the elimination of gains from open trade.

It is in everyone’s best interests to have a multilateral rules-based trading system, indeed, it is particularly in the interests of poorer countries there should be a multilateral rules-based trading system.

What we have actually seen as a consequence of rising geopolitical tensions, Russia’s war with Ukraine, the impact of lockdowns during the COVID pandemic, is that a wave of protectionism has spread across the global economy.

There is even a new vocabulary for this new protectionism.

The US calls it “Friendshoring”.

The EU calls it “De-risking”.

China calls it “Self-Reliance”.

When one country introduces a subsidy, other follow.  For example, figures from the IMF show that when China introduces a subsidy, there is a 90% that the European Union will impose retaliatory trade restrictions within twelve months.

So, we have weakened global growth and countries competing with each other with ambiguous rules and without an effective referee.

Everyone will lose with further trade fragmentation.

On finance, we need to remember an issue that sometimes get overlooked.

For example, remittances have a financial flow three times greater than International Development Assistance and have a direct impact on the rise of about a billion people.

To give an example, Nigeria at present receives about £140 million in bilateral aid from the United Kingdom each year but a whopping estimated $2 billion each year is sent back from Nigerians in the United Kingdom to Nigeria in remittances.

Indeed, migrants sending a proportion of their earnings back to their country of origin, is a benefit of well-managed migration and is valued at approximately $650 billion a year so that remittances account for a third of the total recorded capital inflows to lower/middle income countries.

It thus follows that reducing the cost of remittances could have significant development impact.

Remittances play a vital role in day to day living with some three-quarters of remittances being used to cover essentials such as school fees, medical expenses, food, and rent.

On average, each time an individual sends a remittance, some 6% is lost in transaction costs.

This figure can rise to more than 35% in some instances so not surprisingly, there is a Sustainable Development Goal which seeks to reduce the transaction costs of sending remittances to some 3% which will be increased by financial flow to some of the world’s most economically vulnerable people.

Moreover, new technologies can help drive down transaction costs and make better use of global remittance data.

Those countries such as the United Kingdom which have large financial centres, are well placed to help increase the impact of remittance flows and the influence of the policies and regulations that impact the costs of remittance transfers.

We need remittance policies that benefit senders and receivers.

The objective of wealthy nations must be to seek to bend extreme poverty but we also need collectively to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss.

It is important for us to acknowledge that it is the poorest nations that are hit hardest by the costs of climate disasters.

The impact of climate change and climate breakdown is unevenly spread around the world.  For example, the Hawaiian wildfires in 2023 cost each occupant of the affected area some $4,000.  Typhoon Mawar, which hit Guam in May last year, cost each person affected some $1,500.  Cyclone Freddy, which hit Malawi in the spring of last year, affected 2 million people and caused the death of nearly 1,000.

All too often communities who have contributed the least to causing climate change are suffering the worst.  Loss and damage costs of climate change are in the hundreds of billions of dollars annually in developing countries.

There is now a general global consensus that with the frequency and intensity of climate disasters, projected to increase dramatically, all Governments have to take decisive action now, individually and collectively, to limit global heating to 1.5 degrees, and to adapt to the effects of climate change.

COP 28, at the end of last year, saw movement towards establishing financial provision to help countries to adapt to the effects of climate change and to recover from disasters.

It is important, however, that discussion on climate change is not always a dialogue of doom. 

Of course, it is right to focus on the challenges that lie ahead, but we also need to acknowledge the progress that has been made because in so doing, we can have the confidence that it is possible to make further progress.

His Majesty King Charles was absolutely right at the COP 28 conference to state that “Records are now being broken so often that we are perhaps becoming immune to what they are really telling us”.

But we also need to acknowledge that, for example, at the end of last year, the United Kingdom became the first G20 country to have halved its carbon emissions. 

With the assistance of technology, and the impact of competition and capitalism vying together, have allowed the United Kingdom to extract more power from less fuel in a cleaner way.

The average household in Britain today uses 40% less energy than in the mid-1990s.

So often it is correct that carbon emissions are still rising globally.  This is mainly the result of rapid development in poorer countries, and this of course means that more of the world can afford the basic facilities that so many in the West have taken for granted for so long.

There is no reason to believe, therefore, that we cannot collectively meet our global climate change targets with collective endeavour.  Whilst we face enormous challenges, we also need to recognise that we live during a time when extraordinary advances are being made and we rarely stop to consider that for all the disasters in the world, what is going right far outstrips what is going wrong.






2- Dr. Muhammad Al-Rumaihi - Kuwait

Humble without pretense,

A Lover of goodness without declaration,

Connected to people without discrimination,

A patriot without arrogance,

Doer of good without seeking reward,

A believer in knowledge without neglecting heritage.

These are some qualities of the late great Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain, under whose enduring legacy we all find shelter today.


1.    In a famous saying, "If politics is the carriage, and the economy is the horse," it is shameful to place the carriage before the horse.

2.    Nations and societies seek a safe and stable path towards security and stability. The world finds itself facing a challenge titled "the economy," which represents nothing other than the goal of sustained growth for societies, contrary to what many believe to be politics.

3.    There is no growth or development without well-defined and coherent rational plans within society. These plans, which can be measured, include a comprehensive vision (defining the desired shape of society and its general objectives), the message to be adopted by the governmental, civil, and private sectors, the methodology employed (to stabilize public functions), and the strategic objectives of the comprehensive plan for the state.

4.    With the presence of a performance development apparatus (R&D), periodic performance evaluations, monitoring data verification, and the identification of strategic partners, including the private sector, civil society, and technology partners.


This requires:

1-   Achieving a higher level of coordination between ministries and various entities, shedding light on the magnitude of the achievements made by the state, and acknowledging shortcomings. This is done through aligning government objectives with the individual performance of governmental entities and their personnel, improving the quality of services provided to citizens, ensuring the efficiency and effectiveness of public spending, and measuring the impact of developmental programs implemented by the government on achieving sustainable development goals on a regular basis.

Those are the general principles that must be followed.

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The objectives are as follows:

  • Ensuring the implementation of developmental targets agreed upon by the government.

  • Achieving a higher level of coordination between ministries and various entities.

  • Shedding light on the magnitude of the achievements made by the state.

  • Coordinating between government objectives and the individual performance of governmental entities and their personnel.

  • Improving the quality of services provided to citizens.

  • Ensuring the efficiency and effectiveness of public spending.

  • Measuring the impact of developmental programs implemented by the government on achieving sustainable development goals.

  • Providing urgent solutions to obstacles and evaluating performance to ensure target implementation.

  • Institutionalizing strategic planning frameworks and measuring performance within the state administrative apparatus.

  • Enhancing the capabilities of personnel within the state administrative apparatus in the field of program planning and performance.


The monitoring process consists of three stages:

1.    Planning Stage: Preparation of a quarterly executive action plan.

2.    Monitoring Stage: Receipt of monitoring forms from all entities on a quarterly basis, reviewing them, and ensuring their accuracy before inputting them into the monitoring system.

3.    Evaluation Stage: The system automatically evaluates performance by comparing the implemented share in each performance indicator with the targeted value for the same period.

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Outputs of the performance system include:

1.    A quarterly report assessing the performance of each ministry, highlighting indicators of high, medium, and low performance.

2.    A quarterly report titled "Harvest of the Construction Phase in 90 Days," which comprehensively documents all investment projects completed each quarter. It includes data on the importance of each project, its total cost, geographical location, start and completion dates, as well as images of the project.

3.    Periodic reports on obstacles hindering the implementation of developmental targets.


1-   Government administration is one of the most crucial developmental sectors in various societies. It provides the framework for productive and welfare services, including education at various levels, healthcare, and infrastructure. Therefore, governments worldwide strive to enhance this sector and develop its developmental role. The government of Kuwait is actively working towards comprehensive development of its nation and achieving administrative development in its institutions. To improve governmental performance, programs and initiatives for excellence in governmental performance are implemented according to the vision of Kuwait 2035. These initiatives aim to enhance the quality of services provided to citizens, upgrade infrastructure efficiency, expand electronic services, and establish effective communication channels between governmental service providers and clients (the people), ultimately aiming for an exceptional customer experience.

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The Kuwaiti government employs numerous programs and initiatives to enhance governmental performance and achieve administrative development in state institutions. Some of these programs and initiatives include:

1.    E-Government Program: Aimed at improving governmental services provided to citizens and residents in Kuwait, the E-Government Program seeks to enhance electronic services, establish effective communication channels between governmental service providers and clients, and ensure an exceptional customer experience.[1]

2.    Government Performance Excellence Program: This program aims to improve the quality of services provided to citizens, enhance infrastructure efficiency, expand electronic services, establish effective communication channels between governmental service providers and clients, and ensure an exceptional customer experience.

3.    Workforce and Executive State Structure Restructuring Program: This program aims to improve governmental performance, enhance the quality of services provided to citizens, expand electronic services, establish effective communication channels between governmental service providers and clients, and ensure an exceptional customer experience.

4.    Economic Agenda Program: This program aims to improve the quality of life, increase the effectiveness of the private sector in supporting the economy, and transform Kuwait into a significant investment hub in the region.

5.    Government Work Program 2022-2026: This program aims to achieve social security sustainability for citizens, improve the quality of life, address education and healthcare quality, develop housing care systems, and also focuses on empowering women, integrating people with disabilities, and prioritizing youth who are the true wealth of the nation.

6.    Government Work Program 2023: This extended program encompasses five main axes, each comprising a set of objectives.

What I provided is the theoretical framework. However, the challenge lies in translating this theoretical framework into practical implementation.


We face several major obstacles:

1.    General Education Level, which lacks competence and proficiency.

2.    Environment of Appointing senior and middle-level Government Positions (Loyalty often precedes competency).

3.    Lack of legislation.

4.    Failure to Enforce Existing Legislation due to political or social reasons.

5.    Diminishing Concept of National State and the rise of pre-state or supra-state groups.

6.    Administrative Corruption despite efforts to combat it.

The efficiency of the government apparatus today faces a range of obstacles.


Firstly, in order to produce effective public policy, it heavily relies on the quality of information reaching decision-makers. This information encompasses various sectors such as economy, society, education, healthcare, security, foreign relations, and many others, and it is manufactured, so to speak, from a traditional system or systems until now. However, ensuring the quality of information requires thorough consideration of its sources, accuracy, and timeliness. From my experience, there appears to be no centralized government body dedicated to research and development, which could provide decision-makers with accurate and up-to-date information. Many past decisions have been based on erroneous information. Therefore, there is paramount importance in crafting a vision, developing plans for key issues, prioritizing them, and gradually initiating urgent actions. This should involve monitoring performance systems and seriously considering restructuring the process of appointing government positions.

Secondly, the ministerial team. It has often been said that numerous governments (in the past) were coalition governments, and in other words (quota governments), where of individuals from various segments of society are part of it. However, ensuring competency on one hand and harmony among its members on the other is of paramount importance. From past experiences, what has often hindered governmental functioning is the lack of synchronization among ministers, akin to "out-of-sync calls." Each minister may have their own plans, which could conflict with those of another minister. The Kuwaiti society has experienced this in previous stages without delving into specifics. Therefore, cohesion and teamwork are crucial for the upcoming phase.Top of Form

Thirdly, a top priority is to uproot, to the extent possible, the system of corruption. Corruption, defined as the misuse of power for personal gain, is neither new nor unique to societies, whether rich or poor. It is akin to fungus that thrives in the absence of two factors: effective oversight and lax decision-making. Therefore, the anti-corruption monitoring body (Nazaha) needs to (grow teeth), possibly through revisiting and enhancing its current legal framework.

Fourthly, technology is the future, and no advanced technological industry can thrive without prioritizing education, focusing not only on quantity but also on quality. One of the obstacles to Kuwait's progress lies in its educational system deterioration, firstly due to political interference, and secondly due to a lack of efficiency among those in charge of providing the education services. Therefore, the long-delayed proposal, which suggests importing efficient educational institutions and establishing a non-profit private university to encourage competition among educational institutions, remains relevant. The forthcoming economy is a service-based economy built on high technology, which contributes to reducing corruption in both public and private sectors. However, the educational initiatives available so far have yielded poor returns, with some being of little or no value. Despite the good intentions behind the slogan of "e-government," it has not been realized as it should be, especially compared to neighboring countries.Top of Form

Fifthly, without diminishing the relative success of the healthcare sector, revisiting it anew necessitates not only a modern administration but also a comprehensive vision. Years ago, the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences was asked to conduct a study to develop the sector, and significant sums were allocated to this study. However, once the minister changed, the study was shelved, serving as an example of the abundance of players and the absence of a maestro!

Sixthly, regional blocs are crucial for both security and economy collectively. Therefore, strengthening relations with neighboring Gulf countries is crucial, as the region is boiling with political and conflictual issues that require a skillful team to lead those relations adeptly, emphasizing commonalities and mitigating differences. This should occur within an active international framework, free from selfishness and narrow interests

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Seventhly, creating an effective environment to stimulate the private sector is essential to maximize its contribution to the national income. This can be achieved through several steps, including resolving inconsistencies in existing legislation, some of which may be stalled or contradictory due to personal initiatives. Additionally, transforming the country into an attractive destination for investment and beneficial partnerships for society is crucial.

Eighthly, Kuwait has possessed a soft power (economic and cultural) that distinguished it. However, in recent years, this soft power has been stifled due to unreasonable pressure from "guardians of intentions," namely the cultural and media sectors with their various components of composition, publication, theatrical activities, and cultural events. The scene is rich with these creative individuals, yet their progress is hindered by rigid laws and an administration that fails to recognize the importance of cultural activity as a soft power and an elevating factor for the country, one that it was known for and excelled in.Top of Form

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B- Popular Participation and Development

3- Dr. Arben Cici - Albania

Challenges in the 21st Century

I.                 Abstract 

II.             Introduction to Popular Participation

III.         Popular Participation and Development in the 21st Century

IV.          Origin and definition

V.              Typology of popular participation

VI.          Popular participation in different continents and countries

VII.      Benefits and impact of popular participation

VIII. Popular participation             development & democracy

IX.          Popular participation and politics, decision-makers

1.    Why must politicians appreciate popular participation?

2.    Why politicians may be cautious or hesitant to popular participation?

3.    In which societies politicians afraid popular participation?

X.              Popular participation in the globalization and digital age. Advantages and challenges

1.    Advantages of Popular Participation in the 21st Century

2.    Challenges of Popular Participation in the 21st Century

XI.          Conclusions. Popular participation and development in 21st century are crucial?

XII.      References

Annex: International organizations promoting popular participation and development


I.                 Abstract

          In the 21st century, popular participation and development form a vital synergy for fostering inclusive, sustainable, and equitable societies. Acknowledging diverse needs and aspirations, popular participation ensures nuanced, context-specific decision-making in the face of challenges like globalization and technological advancements. The shift toward democratization emphasizes its role in empowering individuals to shape policies impacting their lives. For sustainable development, it enroots shared responsibility, with technology acting as a powerful enabler, bridging gaps and amplifying voices. Ultimately, embracing popular participation is not a choice but a necessity for shaping a sustainable and equitable world reflective of human aspirations and diversity.

Key words:        #popular participation, #development, #globalization, #empowerment, #governance, #decision-making,  #inclusivity, #accountability, #transparency.    


II.             Introduction to Popular Participation

Popular participation, a concept deeply rooted in the principles of democracy and community engagement, refers to the active involvement of individuals and communities in decision-making processes, governance, and development initiatives. It embodies the belief that the people, collectively, have the right and responsibility to contribute to shaping the policies and activities that affect their lives. This concept stands as a cornerstone in fostering inclusive societies and sustainable development.

At its core, popular participation reflects a departure from traditional top-down approaches to governance and development. It champions the idea that decisions should not be imposed from above but should emerge through a collaborative process that incorporates the diverse perspectives, experiences, and needs of the general populace. Whether in the context of political decision-making, community development projects, or educational initiatives, popular participation underscores the importance of shared responsibility and empowerment.

Popular participation is not merely about casting votes in elections; it extends to active engagement in civic activities, community discussions, and the co-creation of solutions to address local challenges. This inclusive approach recognizes that the strength of a society lies in the collective agency of its citizens. It promotes transparency, accountability, and social cohesion by fostering a sense of ownership and shared responsibility among community members.

As we navigate the complexities of the contemporary world, where issues span from global challenges to local intricacies, popular participation emerges as a vital mechanism for informed and democratic decision-making. It is a principle that echoes through various fields, from political science and governance to community development and education. In this era of interconnectedness, where technology facilitates unprecedented communication and collaboration, popular participation stands as a beacon for building societies that are not only responsive to the needs of the people but also resilient, inclusive, and actively evolving.

This paper sets the stage for a deeper understanding of the multifaceted role that popular participation plays in shaping the dynamics of societies in the 21st century and the challenges in different countries and aspects of society, politics and development, nowadays.


III.         Popular Participation and Development in the 21st Century

In the 21st century, the relationship between popular participation and development has evolved into a dynamic and essential partnership, shaping the trajectory of societies worldwide. This era is marked by unprecedented connectivity, technological advancements, and a growing recognition of the critical role that communities play in fostering sustainable development. The concept of popular participation, which involves the active engagement of individuals and communities in decision-making processes, has emerged as a linchpin for inclusive and impactful development.

One of the defining characteristics of the 21st century is the interconnectedness facilitated by technology. Social media, online platforms, and instant communication have democratized information, providing individuals with unprecedented access to knowledge and the ability to voice their opinions. In this context, popular participation has transcended traditional boundaries, empowering communities to actively contribute to the development agenda.

In the realm of sustainable development, popular participation serves as a catalyst for shaping policies and initiatives that resonate with the genuine needs of communities. The challenges of the 21st century, including climate change, global health crises, wars and causalities, economic disparities and brain drain trend demand innovative and locally contextualized solutions. Popular participation ensures that diverse perspectives are taken into account, fostering a collaborative approach that goes beyond top-down decision-making.

Furthermore, the 21st century has witnessed a shift in the understanding of development. It is no longer solely measured by economic indicators but encompasses a holistic approach that considers social, environmental, and cultural dimensions. Popular participation aligns with this broader vision of development, emphasizing the importance of grassroots involvement in crafting strategies that promote not only economic growth but also social equity, environmental sustainability, cultural preservation and peace as well.

The concept of popular participation is intricately linked to the principles of democracy and human rights. In the 21st century, there is a global recognition that development cannot be truly sustainable unless it is inclusive and respects the fundamental rights of individuals. Popular participation becomes a tool for ensuring that development processes adhere to democratic principles, promoting transparency, accountability, solidarity and protection of human rights.

Moreover, the 21st century has seen a growing emphasis on the role of local communities as agents of change. Development initiatives driven by popular participation are more likely to be embraced by communities, leading to a sense of ownership and responsibility. This localized empowerment contributes to the resilience and sustainability of development efforts, creating a positive feedback loop where communities actively participate in their own progress.

Popular participation also intersects with theories of power and empowerment. It recognizes that power is not solely concentrated in formal institutions but is also distributed among citizens. Through participation, individuals and communities can gain a sense of agency, influence decision-making processes, and challenge existing power structures. This empowerment aspect of popular participation is crucial for promoting social justice, reducing inequalities, and enhancing democratic legitimacy.

Popular participation, development, and peace, can be conceptualized as an interconnected triangle relationship, where each element plays a vital role, influences and is influenced by the others, and positive developments in one component can have cascading effects on the others. Conversely, challenges in any of these areas can create tensions that reverberate throughout the system. This interconnectedness underscores the importance of considering the synergies among popular participation, development, peace, and political development for comprehensive social progress.

However, popular participation is not without its challenges and criticisms. Critics argue that it can be tokenistic, where citizens' input is merely symbolic and does not genuinely influence decisions. There are concerns about the representativeness of participants, as marginalized groups may face barriers to participation. Additionally, the resource and information asymmetry between citizens and institutions can hinder meaningful engagement.

Popular participation remains a fundamental aspect of democratic governance. It is grounded in concepts such as deliberative democracy, social capital, power, and empowerment. By involving citizens in decision making, popular participation aims to enhance democratic legitimacy, accountability, and responsiveness.

However, addressing challenges and ensuring meaningful and inclusive participation remains an ongoing endeavor for policymakers and practitioners committed to strengthening democratic processes in the 21st century.


In conclusion, popular participation in the 21st century is not merely a desirable component of development; it is an imperative. As we navigate the complexities of a rapidly changing world, the engagement of individuals and communities is indispensable for crafting responsive, inclusive, and sustainable development pathways. The evolving landscape of the 21st century demands a paradigm shift where popular participation is not only recognized but actively embraced as the cornerstone of a more just, equitable, and prosperous global society.

IV.          Origin and definition

The term "popular participation" has been used in various contexts throughout history, and its theoretical application can be traced to different disciplines. While it's challenging to pinpoint an exact moment when the term was first used theoretically, its emergence coincides with the development of theories related to political science, governance, community development, education and international development context as well.

In the realm of political science, scholars like Robert Dahl, who wrote extensively on democratic theory in the mid-20th century, discussed concepts related to citizen participation. Similarly, political philosophers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau in the 18th century laid the groundwork for ideas related to popular sovereignty and citizen engagement.

In the context of community development and grassroots movements, the theoretical underpinnings of popular participation can be linked to discussions in the mid-20th century and later. The emphasis on community-led development and the importance of involving local populations in decision-making gained traction during this period.

While the term itself might not have been consistently used in the distant past, the principles associated with popular participation have deep historical roots. Over time, as theories of democracy, governance, and community development evolved, the term "popular participation" became a concise way to express the active engagement of the general populace in various aspects of social life.

1.    Political Science Perspective:

Definition: Popular participation refers to the active involvement of citizens in political processes, such as voting in elections, participating in civic activities, and engaging in political discourse.

Example: Citizens exercising their right to vote in elections and attending community town hall meetings.

2.    Community Development Perspective:

Definition: Popular participation involves community members actively contributing to decision-making processes and initiatives that affect their local environment, fostering a sense of ownership and empowerment.

Example: Community members collaborating with local authorities to design and implement neighborhood improvement projects.

3.    Education Context:

Definition: In education, popular participation signifies the active engagement of students, parents, and community members in the decision-making processes of schools and educational institutions.

Example: Parents participating in school board meetings, providing input on curriculum development, and actively supporting their children's education.

4.    International Development Context:

Definition: In the context of international development, popular participation refers to the involvement of people in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of development programs, ensuring their needs and perspectives are taken into account.

Example: Local communities actively participating in the design and execution of sustainable development projects in collaboration with non-governmental organizations.


V.              Typology of popular participation

Popular participation in various countries and among diverse societal groups exhibits a typology shaped by factors and constraints.

Examining case studies across nations, this participation can be classified based on its initiation into three primary forms.

Firstly, there's spontaneous participation, representing an almost ideal mode where involvement is voluntary, grassroots-driven, and devoid of external support. This form signifies a self-organized effort by people to address and tackle issues independently, without reliance on governmental or external intervention.

Secondly, induced participation emerges as the most prevalent mode, particularly in developing countries. Here, the government plays a pivotal role in instigating and institutionalizing popular participation. Strategies involve motivating and training local leaders, establishing self-management structures, fostering cooperative organizations, and promoting civic and community bodies. This form is sponsored, mandated, and officially endorsed, reflecting a more orchestrated approach to participation.

Lastly, coerced participation takes on a compulsory, manipulated, and contrived nature. While it may, in some instances, resemble induced participation, it is distinct in its coercive nature. Although coercive methods might yield immediate results, particularly in the short term, sustained popular participation that lacks genuine public support tends to be counter-productive. In the long run, it risks eroding citizen interest in engaging with development activities.

Therefore, the typology of popular participation underscores the diverse ways it manifests, emphasizing the importance of considering the initiation process and the nature of involvement across different regions and societies.


VI.          Popular participation in different continents and countries

Popular participation varies across different continents and countries due to diverse cultural, political, economic, and historical contexts, and landscapes. Generally, there are experiences and a mix of traditional community involvement, emerging youth-led movement, mass movements and social media activism, witnesses robust participation with citizens contributing to policy discussions and shaping governance, citizens actively engage in democratic processes through voting, advocacy, showcase active civic participation through protests and community, citizens participating in governance through indigenous representation and civic engagement. Across continents, popular participation manifests in distinctive way, reflecting regional dynamic, trends and cultural contexts:


1.    Africa:

Community Involvement: Many African countries emphasize community-based approaches to development, involving local populations in decision-making processes.

          Local Governance: Some countries have implemented decentralization policies, promoting local governance structures and community participation.


Kenya has seen efforts to increase citizen participation, particularly in local governance. Devolution has aimed to bring decision-making closer to the people, although challenges related to corruption and political tensions persist.


In the aftermath of the Jasmine Revolution, Tunisia established the Truth and Dignity Commission in 2014 as a unique and groundbreaking initiative. Citizens, including many from marginalized communities’ testimonies, documenting abuses, and engaging in public hearing. 

South Africa:

Post-apartheid South Africa has made strides in promoting inclusivity and citizen participation. Efforts have been made to involve communities in decision-making processes, especially in the context of addressing historical injustices and promoting social cohesion.


2.    Asia:

Diverse Models: Popular participation models vary widely across Asian countries due to cultural and political diversity.

E-Governance: Some countries leverage technology for citizen engagement, promoting e-governance platforms for feedback, participation, and public services.


China's political system is characterized by a strong central authority. While there are mechanisms for citizen participation at the local level, the overall political landscape is influenced by centralized governance.


India has a vibrant democracy with a long history of popular participation. The country employs decentralized governance structures to involve local communities in development initiatives. However, challenges like bureaucratic hurdles and socio-economic disparities persist.

South Korea:

The e-People platform, launched in 2007, serves as an online portal for citizens to access government services, submit petitions, and actively participate in policy discussions. It provides a user-friendly interface for citizens to voice their opinion, submit policy suggestions, and file grievances directly to government agencies.  


3.    Europe:

Citizen Engagement: European countries often have well-established mechanisms for citizen engagement and public consultation in governance.

Participatory Budgeting: Initiatives like participatory budgeting are implemented in various cities, allowing citizens to allocate portions of public budgets.


Sweden has a strong social welfare system, emphasizes citizen participation in decision-making processes. The country promotes a collaborative approach in developing policies to ensure they align with the needs and preferences of the population.


4.    North America:

Community Organizations: In the U.S. and Canada, community organizations play a significant role in grassroots activism and participatory processes.

Town Hall Meetings: Town hall meetings provide opportunities for citizens to engage directly with elected officials.

United States:

The U.S. has a democratic system with a focus on representative democracy. Citizens participate through voting and engaging with elected representatives. However, there are ongoing discussions about enhancing direct participation and addressing issues like voter accessibility.


5.    South America:

Participatory Democracy: Some South American countries, like Brazil, have embraced participatory democracy with mechanisms such as participatory budgeting.

Social Movements: Strong social movements advocate for popular participation in decision-making processes.


Brazil has experienced periods of political and social turbulence. The country has a history of social movements and citizen engagement, with varying degrees of success in incorporating popular participation into governance and development processes.


6.    Oceania:

Indigenous Participation: In Australia and New Zealand, there is a growing emphasis on including Indigenous communities in decision-making processes.

Environmental Stewardship: Pacific Island nations often involve communities in environmental conservation and sustainability initiatives.


Indigenous Australians engage in the democratic process through various means, like Representative Bodies, Land Rights and Native Title, contributing to policy discussions, advocating for their rights, and participating in decision-making processes.

It is important to note that the dynamics and trends of popular participation and sustainable development are complex and can vary over time. Factors such as political and governance structures, cultural contexts, socio-economic conditions and strength of civil society organizations influence the degree to which citizens actively participate in shaping their societies.


VII.      Benefits and impact of popular participation

Popular participation yields a range of benefits across various domains, including governance, development, social cohesion, and peace.

Popular participation positively affects development by fostering inclusivity, empowering communities, and ensuring that development initiatives align with the actual needs and priorities of the people. When individuals actively participate in decision-making processes, they bring diverse perspectives, local knowledge, and a deeper understanding of their own challenges. This, in turn, helps create more relevant, sustainable, and effective development strategies. Additionally, increased participation can enhance decentralization, social cohesion, strengthen governance structures, and promote a sense of ownership and responsibility, contributing to the overall success and longevity of development efforts.

By ensuring that people have a voice in shaping policies and projects that affect them, there's a greater likelihood of creating sustainable and inclusive development. This approach contributes to building a more peaceful society by addressing local needs and fostering a sense of ownership and collaboration among community members.

Here are several advantages associated with active involvement of individuals and communities in decision-making processes:

Popular Participation



Inclusive Decision-Making

Popular participation ensures that a diverse range of voices, perspectives, and experiences are considered in decision-making

Inclusive decision-making leads to policies and initiatives that better reflect the needs and aspirations of the entire society

Enhanced Civic Engagement

Actively involving citizens in decision-making processes promotes civic engagement.

A more engaged citizenry is likely to contribute positively to social well-being, fostering a sense of responsibility and ownership.

Improved Development Outcomes

Engaging communities in the development process ensures that initiatives align with local needs and priorities.

Development efforts informed by popular participation are more likely to be effective, sustainable, and address the root causes of issues


Social Cohesion

Active participation fosters a sense of community and social cohesion

Cohesive societies are more resilient to conflicts, promote mutual support, and contribute to overall stability.

Empowerment of Communities

Involving communities empowers them to actively contribute to shaping their own destinies

Empowered communities are more likely to take initiatives for their own development and advocate for their rights

Responsive Governance

Popular participation promotes transparent and accountable governance

Governments that actively involve citizens are more likely to respond to the genuine needs of the population, building trust and legitimacy

Conflict Prevention and Resolution

Open communication channels and participatory decision-making can prevent conflicts

Inclusive processes provide mechanisms for addressing grievances, reducing the likelihood of tensions escalating into conflicts

Informed Decision-Making

Popular participation ensures that decisions are informed by local knowledge and diverse perspectives

Informed decision-making results in more comprehensive and effective solutions to complex challenges

Cultural Preservation

Engaging communities in decision-making respects and preserves cultural diversity

Development initiatives that consider cultural contexts are more likely to be accepted and embraced by communities

Educational Opportunities

Participation in decision-making processes can provide educational opportunities for individuals

Through active involvement, people can learn about governance, social issues, and the complexities of decision-making

Community Resilience

Engaged communities are often more resilient in the face of external challenges

A sense of community and shared responsibility can help communities navigate and overcome various challenges


In summary, popular participation is very important and contributes to more inclusive, equitable, and sustainable and democratic societies by leveraging the collective wisdom, knowledge, and energy of diverse communities. It strengthens the foundations of democracy, promotes social justice, and empowers individuals and communities to actively contribute to their own development.


VIII. Popular participation               development & democracy

Several tools and methods are employed to enhance popular participation, promote development, and strengthen democratic processes. These tools vary across different contexts and can be applied at the community, national, or international levels. Here are some common tools and approaches used in the intersection of popular participation, development, and democracy:




Participatory Budgeting

Engages citizens in allocating a portion of public budgets, allowing them to directly influence spending priorities.

Local government budgeting processes

Citizen Advisory Committees

Establishes committees comprising citizens who provide input and feedback on specific issues or projects

Used in various sectors such as urban planning, healthcare, and education

Community Scorecards

Purpose:** Involves communities in assessing and scoring the quality and effectiveness of public services

Healthcare, education, and other public services

Town Hall Meetings

Provides a platform for open discussions between citizens and government officials

Local, regional, or national levels for discussing policies and gathering feedback

Online Platforms for Civic Engagement

Utilizes digital tools to facilitate public discussions, surveys, and feedback

Online forums, social media, and dedicated platforms for citizen engagement

Deliberative Polling

Combines information, small-group discussions, and opinion polling to gauge public opinion on specific issues

Used to inform policymakers on contentious issues

Social Accountability Tools

Empowers citizens to monitor and hold institutions accountable for service delivery and public resources

Tools like community scorecards, citizen report cards, and public expenditure tracking

Community-Led Development (CLD

Empowers communities to identify and implement their development priorities

Grassroots development projects and initiatives

Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR)

Involves collaboration between researchers and community members to address local issues and contribute to knowledge creation

Research projects in fields like healthcare, education, and environmental studies

Open Government Initiatives

Promotes transparency, collaboration, and citizen engagement in government processes

Platforms providing access to government data, open policymaking, and participatory decision-making

Public Hearings and Consultations

Allows citizens to voice opinions and concerns on proposed policies or projects

Legislative processes, policy development, and major infrastructure projects


These tools and methods contribute to fostering an inclusive, participatory, and democratic approach to development. The effectiveness of these tools often depends on the context, the commitment of stakeholders, and the integration of citizen input into decision-making processes.


IX.          Popular participation and politics, decision-makers

In the realm of politics, the relationship between decision-makers and popular participation is a dynamic interplay that shapes the foundations of democratic governance. Decision-makers, ranging from elected officials to policymakers, hold the responsibility of crafting policies and making choices that impact society. Their decisions influence the direction of a nation, impacting everything from public services to legislative frameworks.

Popular participation, on the other hand, emphasizes the active involvement of citizens in political processes. It encompasses various forms of engagement, including voting in elections, participating in community forums, and utilizing digital platforms for civic discourse. When decision-makers embrace and encourage popular participation, they foster a more inclusive and responsive political landscape. Citizens, as active participants, contribute diverse perspectives, bringing attention to a wide array of concerns and aspirations.

The relationship becomes symbiotic when decision-makers not only listen to the voices of the people but also integrate this feedback into their decision-making processes. In doing so, they enhance the legitimacy of their decisions and ensure that policies reflect the diverse needs of the population.

Conversely, robust popular participation relies on decision-makers valuing and respecting the input of citizens, creating a reciprocal relationship that lies at the core of effective democratic governance. This intricate balance ensures that politics is not merely a process of top-down decision-making but a collaborative effort that incorporates the collective wisdom of the populace.

The perception of popular participation among politicians can vary, and opinions may be influenced by several factors. Here are some reasons why politicians might both appreciate and be cautious or hesitant about popular participation:


1.    Why politicians must appreciate popular participation?

Politicians have a vested interest in appreciating popular participation as it serves as a powerful avenue to enhance the legitimacy and effectiveness of their governance. Embracing and valuing the input of citizens fosters a sense of inclusivity and responsiveness, crucial for maintaining public trust. Politicians who actively engage with popular participation demonstrate a commitment to representing the diverse needs and concerns of their constituents.

Appreciating popular participation is not merely a strategic move; it is a fundamental acknowledgement that a thriving democracy thrives when citizens are active contributors to the political process, ultimately strengthening the foundation of representative governance.




Legitimacy and Trust

Involving the public in decision-making processes can enhance the legitimacy of policies and build trust with constituents

When citizens feel heard and see their input reflected in decisions, it can strengthen the perceived legitimacy of elected officials

Informed Decision-Making

Popular participation can provide valuable insights, local knowledge, and diverse perspectives that politicians might not have considered

Informed decisions are more likely to address the real needs and concerns of the community

Social Cohesion

Popular participation fosters social cohesion by engaging citizens in shared decision-making

A cohesive society is generally more stable and supportive, contributing to a positive political environment

Democratic Values

Participatory governance aligns with democratic principles, emphasizing the inclusion of citizens in decision-making

Embracing democratic values enhances the overall democratic legitimacy of political institutions



2.    Why politicians may be cautious or hesitant to popular participation?

Politicians may exhibit caution or hesitancy towards popular participation due to concerns about the unpredictability and potential challenges associated with diverse public opinion. Fear of backlash, the complexity of managing diverse perspectives, and the risk of polarizing issues could deter some politicians. Additionally, the fast-paced nature of social media platforms may make politicians apprehensive about the speed at which public sentiments can escalate. Striking a balance between representing the majority and addressing the concerns of different groups requires finesses, and some politicians may be wary of the intricacies involved in managing widespread and diverse public engagement.




Complex Decision-Making

Involving the public in complex policy decisions may be challenging, as citizens might not have the full scope of information

Politicians may worry about the potential for simplified or populist solutions that don't fully address nuanced issues

Potential for Populism

There is a risk that popular participation can be manipulated for populist agendas, prioritizing short-term popularity over long-term solutions

Politicians may be wary of decisions that prioritize immediate public approval without considering the broader implications

Time and Resource Constraints

Comprehensive public engagement processes can be time-consuming and resource-intensive

Politicians may be hesitant if they perceive that the investment in participatory processes could outweigh the benefits

Resistance to Change

Popular participation might challenge existing power structures and political traditions

Politicians may resist changes that could diminish their authority or disrupt established political dynamics

Accountability Pressure

Active participation may lead to heightened expectations and demands for accountability

Politicians may be cautious if they fear increased scrutiny and pressure to deliver on promises made during participatory processes


Expertise and Specialization


Public opinions may not always align with expert opinions or specialized knowledge

Some politicians may feel that decisions should be left to those with expertise in specific fields, and involving the public might lead to decisions based on popular sentiment rather than informed judgment

Political Risks


Participatory processes may expose politicians to political risks, especially if decisions are controversial or face significant opposition

Politicians may fear backlash or negative public reactions, impacting their political careers or party standings


The complexity of managing diverse opinions and balancing conflicting interests poses a significant challenge, and some politicians may prefer more controlled decision-making environments. Finally, the traditional top-down approach to governance might resist a shift towards more inclusive models, as it challenges established power dynamics. These factors contribute to a reluctance among some politicians to fully embrace and integrate popular participation into decision-making processes.

It's crucial to emphasize that these concerns or hesitations are not universal among politicians, and many recognize the value of popular participation in fostering democratic governance. Political attitudes towards popular participation can be shaped by factors such as political culture, individual beliefs, and the specific context within which politicians operate.


3.    In which societies politicians afraid popular participation?

The level of apprehension politicians may have toward popular participation can vary widely across different societies, and it is influenced by a combination of political, cultural, and historical factors. However, politicians might express more apprehension about popular participation in societies where certain conditions or dynamics are present. Here are a few general scenarios where politicians might be more hesitant or cautious about popular participation:



Authoritarian or Autocratic Systems

In societies with authoritarian or autocratic systems of governance, where power is concentrated in the hands of a few, politicians may be more reluctant to embrace popular participation as it challenges the established order

Deeply Divided or Polarized Societies

Politicians might be cautious in societies with deep divisions or polarization, fearing that participatory processes could exacerbate existing tensions or lead to decisions that favor one group over another

Corruption and Lack of Transparency

In societies where corruption is prevalent, politicians may resist popular participation due to concerns about increased scrutiny, demands for accountability, and the potential exposure of corrupt practices

Weak Democratic Institutions

In societies with weak democratic institutions, politicians may be hesitant to embrace popular participation, fearing that it could lead to governance challenges or disrupt established power structures


Economic Instability

In societies facing economic challenges or instability, politicians may be concerned that popular participation could lead to demands for radical economic changes or social policies that they perceive as risky


Historical Resistance to Change

In societies with a history of resisting change or where traditional power structures have been deeply ingrained, politicians might be more hesitant to adopt participatory processes that could challenge the status quo


Lack of Civic Education

Where there is a lack of civic education and awareness, politicians might be concerned that popular participation could be influenced by misinformation or lack of understanding, leading to decisions that may not be in the best interest of the society


Security Concerns

In societies facing significant security challenges, politicians might be reluctant to involve the public in decision-making processes, fearing that such involvement could lead to decisions perceived as weak on security matters


These are general observations, and there can be exceptions. Societies are diverse, and the attitudes of politicians toward popular participation can be shaped by a multitude of factors. Additionally, political dynamics can evolve over time, and societies may undergo changes that influence the level of acceptance or resistance to popular participation.

In summary, politicians' attitudes toward popular participation can be nuanced, reflecting a balance between recognizing the benefits of citizen engagement and navigating challenges and concerns related to the practical implementation of participatory processes.


X.              Popular participation in the globalization and digital age. Advantages and challenges.

In the era of globalization, popular participation stands at the crossroads of unprecedented advantages and intricate challenges. The accelerated pace of information exchange, facilitated by global interconnectedness, has given rise to a digital age where citizens worldwide can actively engage in global discussions. Social media platforms serve as arenas for cross-cultural dialogue, enabling individuals to voice concerns, mobilize movements, and foster a global sense of solidarity. For instance, the #MeToo movement transcended borders, with individuals from various countries sharing their experiences and advocating for gender equality.

Moreover, initiatives like online petitions and global advocacy campaigns leverage digital connectivity to amplify voices and press for international change. The accessibility of information and the ability to connect with like-minded individuals globally empower citizens to address shared challenges, from environmental conservation to human rights advocacy. The advantages of global popular participation lie in its potential to foster a sense of global citizenship, where individuals recognize their interconnectedness and collaborate for common goals.

However, this global participation landscape is not without its pitfalls. The speed at which information spreads can lead to misinformation, contributing to the proliferation of fake news and the erosion of trust in institutions. The complexity of global issues, such as economic policies or climate change, different conflicts and wars requires nuanced understanding, and oversimplified narratives in the digital realm may hinder informed decision-making. Additionally, the digital divide poses challenges, as not all communities have equal access to the online platforms shaping global conversations.

Furthermore, the participatory nature of social media can sometimes lead to echo chambers, where individuals are exposed only to perspectives that align with their existing beliefs. This polarization can hinder constructive global dialogue, as differing viewpoints struggle to find common ground.

In navigating the advantages and disadvantages of global popular participation, there is a pressing need for robust digital literacy, inclusive platforms, and mechanisms that ensure the meaningful incorporation of diverse perspectives into international decision-making processes.

The examples illustrate the profound impact of global popular participation in shaping our interconnected world, calling for thoughtful strategies to harness its strengths while mitigating its challenges. The examples show that the national level impact and international level challenges are interconnected and incorporated with the advantages and disadvantages addressing a common and integrating solution.

1.    Advantages of Popular Participation in the 21st Century


National Level

International Level

Democratic Empowerment

Popular participation strengthens democracy by giving citizens a direct voice in decision-making processes. This can enhance the legitimacy of governments and institutions

International Level:* In a globalized era, citizen participation can contribute to the legitimacy and effectiveness of international organizations, fostering a sense of global governance that reflects diverse perspectives

Inclusive Policy Formulation

Involving citizens in policy formulation ensures a more comprehensive understanding of diverse needs, promoting inclusive and representative policies

Global participation allows diverse countries to contribute to the formulation of international policies, reflecting a more inclusive approach to addressing global challenges

Technological Connectivity

Advancements in technology facilitate easier communication and engagement, enabling citizens to participate in decision-making processes from anywhere

Technology fosters global connectivity, allowing individuals worldwide to engage in discussions and contribute to international initiatives, overcoming geographical barriers

Increased Accountability

Citizen participation enhances transparency and accountability as governments become more responsive to the needs and expectations of their constituents

In the global context, increased participation can hold international organizations accountable for their actions, ensuring they address the concerns of diverse nations


2.    Challenges of Popular Participation in the 21st Century


National Level

International Level

Potential for Misinformation

Increased participation may lead to the spread of misinformation, affecting public opinion and decision-making processes

Global participation can be susceptible to the dissemination of false information on an international scale, influencing global perspectives

Challenges in Decision-Making Speed

Extensive participation might slow down decision-making processes, hindering the timely implementation of policies

Balancing diverse opinions on a global scale can make decision-making in international organizations time-consuming, potentially impacting the swift resolution of global issues

Inequality in Participation

Certain demographics may be more active in participation, potentially excluding marginalized voices and perpetuating existing inequalities

Global participation may be dominated by certain powerful nations, creating imbalances in the influence exerted on international policies

Complexity in Coordination

Coordinating diverse opinions at the national level can be challenging, leading to difficulties in reaching consensus

Coordinating the participation of numerous countries with different interests and priorities can result in complexities and difficulties in achieving global cooperation

In the 21st century, popular participation brings both opportunities and challenges at national and international levels. While it strengthens democratic values, promotes inclusivity, accountability and leverages technological advancements, it also requires careful navigation to address issues like misinformation, decision-making efficiency, inequality, and coordination complexities. Striking a balance that maximizes the advantages while mitigating the disadvantages is crucial for fostering effective and inclusive governance in the era of globalization.

XI.          Conclusions.

In the 21st century, the synergy between popular participation and development has emerged as a critical paradigm for fostering inclusive, sustainable, and equitable societies. As we navigate the complexities of this era marked by unprecedented challenges and opportunities, the centrality of engaging communities in decision-making processes has become more pronounced than ever.

Firstly, popular participation is crucial in the 21st century because it ensures that the multifaceted needs and aspirations of diverse populations are acknowledged and addressed. In an era characterized by rapid globalization and technological advancements, societies are navigating complex challenges ranging from climate change and pandemics to economic disparities. Inclusive decision-making processes allow communities to contribute their unique perspectives and local knowledge, ensuring that development initiatives are nuanced, context-specific, and responsive to the intricate realities on the ground.

Secondly, the 21st century is witnessing a paradigm shift in power dynamics, with an increasing emphasis on democratization and decentralization. Popular participation is the cornerstone of democratic governance, providing individuals with agency in shaping the policies that impact their lives. This participatory ethos is not only a democratic ideal but also a pragmatic response to the interconnected global landscape, where top-down approaches often fall short in capturing the intricacies of local contexts.

Moreover, the imperative for sustainable development underscores the need for long-term thinking and collaboration. Popular participation not only involves citizens in decision-making but also instills a sense of shared responsibility for the collective well-being. This shared responsibility is indispensable for achieving sustainable development goals, as communities become active contributors to and stewards of their own progress.

In the 21st century, technology serves as a powerful enabler of popular participation, bridging geographical gaps and facilitating real-time engagement. Digital platforms and social media empower citizens to voice their concerns, participate in public discourse, and hold institutions accountable. This technological democratization of information amplifies the impact of popular participation, making it more accessible and inclusive.

In conclusion, popular participation and development in the 21st century are inseparable components of a progressive and resilient global society. As we grapple with unprecedented challenges and navigate a rapidly evolving world, the wisdom of crowds, harnessed through participatory processes, becomes an invaluable asset.

By recognizing the agency of individuals and communities, fostering inclusivity, and leveraging technological advancements, we pave the way for a future where development is not merely a top-down agenda but a collective endeavor that reflects the aspirations and diversity of humanity.

Embracing popular participation is not just a choice; it is a necessity for shaping a sustainable and equitable development world in the 21st century:


“The new European consensus on development. ‘Our world, our dignity, our future’”.



International organizations promoting popular participation and development

v Global Partnership for Social Accountability (GPSA) hosted by the World Bank, supports social accountability initiatives that aim to increase citizen participation in governance and development processes.

v International Association for Public Participation (IAP2): While not exclusively focused on development, IAP2 is dedicated to advancing the practice of public participation. It provides resources and training for professionals involved in community engagement.

v International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) invests in rural people, empowering them to increase their food security, improve the nutrition of their families and increase their incomes, helps them build resilience, expand their businesses and take charge of their own development.

v International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) works on sustainable development, emphasizing the importance of inclusive decision-making and community participation in environmental and social issues.

v International Labour Organization(ILO) promotes decent work and social justice. It sets international labor standards, promotes workers' rights, and supports social dialogue between governments, employers, and workers. By ensuring fair and inclusive labor practices, ILO contributes to social and economic development.

v International Monetary Fund (IMF) promotes economic stability and sustainable growth by providing financial assistance, policy advice, and technical assistance to member countries. This helps in fostering economic development and creating an environment conducive to popular participation.

v Participatory Budgeting Project: This organization promotes participatory budgeting processes, allowing citizens to have a direct say in how public funds are allocated and spent in their communities.

v Participatory Development Forum (PDF) is a network and platform that promotes participatory approaches to development. It provides a space for sharing knowledge and experiences related to community participation.

v United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) works to protect the rights and well-being of children worldwide. Through various programs and initiatives, UNICEF promotes child participation, advocates for children's rights, and supports their development in areas such as education, health, and protection.

v United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) works globally to support countries in achieving sustainable development. It often emphasizes participatory approaches and community engagement in its development programs.

v United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) focuses on promoting education, scientific research, cultural preservation, and freedom of expression. By supporting inclusive and quality education, cultural diversity, and knowledge sharing, UNESCO contributes to the development of societies and encourages popular participation in cultural and educational activities.

v United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA): UNFPA promotes reproductive health, gender equality, and population dynamics. It works towards ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health services, empowering women and young people, and promoting population policies that are based on human rights and sustainable development.

v United Nations Women (UN Women) focuses on gender equality and women's empowerment. It works to enhance women's participation in decision-making processes, eliminate gender-based discrimination and violence, and promote women's economic empowerment and leadership.

v World Bank - Social Development Department addresses issues related to social inclusion, community-driven development, and participatory approaches to poverty reduction.

v World Food Programme (WFP) is the leading humanitarian organization saving lives and changing lives, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience.

v World Health Organization (WHO) works to ensure the highest possible level of health for all people. It promotes universal health coverage, strengthens health systems, and addresses global health challenges. By focusing on health equity and community participation, WHO contributes to the development of healthy and inclusive societies.


While there may not be specific international organizations exclusively dedicated to "popular participation and development," they incorporate participatory approaches into broader development goals, community engagement, governance, social initiatives and sustainable development and play a role in promoting popular participation within the broader context of development.





4- Dr. Moataz Salama - the Arab Republic of Egypt

          The concept of popular participation has gained a significant degree of international consensus in recent decades, regarded as a fundamental requirement for achieving development. International organizations, including the United Nations, the World Bank, and UNICEF, have placed great importance on popular participation and on involving local communities in sectors such as education, schools, and health, and even in programs for the care of children with disabilities. Popular participation has become an integral part of their operational agendas and a core element of their comprehensive development vision. The International Labour Organization has emphasized that participation is a "basic human need" and a value in itself.

          There is no single or comprehensive definition of popular participation; therefore, it is best understood within the context of each country and according to its political, social, and economic system. The general definition proposed provides a broad and inclusive concept of popular participation linked to development, defining it as "creating opportunities that enable all members of society and the larger community to actively participate and influence the development process, so they can justly and fairly share in the benefits of development. " The United Nations Development Programme defines it as "the active contribution of citizens to policymaking and decision-making related to the public good directly or through their representatives, facilitated by providing citizens with the opportunity to play an active role in the capacities of their country through a range of political, legislative, and administrative measures." In another definition, popular participation is described as "the process that allows all individuals in a society and its qualified groups under the law opportunities to express their opinions, play a role in the preparation, implementation, monitoring, and oversight of plans and projects directly and indirectly, with the aim of achieving economic, social, and political development, improving the quality of life of the population, and satisfying their needs fairly without harming national interests ."

          If the concept of participation, in its general sense, refers to "the process through which individuals have a role in the political and social life of their community, with the opportunity to participate in setting public goals and choosing the best means to achieve and accomplish them," then it can be inferred that popular participation, in its developmental sense, is "engaging people to some extent in the design and supervision of development policies and projects, either through their own efforts or in collaboration with central and local government agencies ." Popular participation is considered a fundamental element within any social system, whether democratic or non-democratic .

          In light of that, the research paper is divided into four parts, concluding with a general summary, as follows:

1.    Community Participation and Political Development: Interconnections of the Relationship

2.    Popular Participation ... and Building Consensus Framework and Good Governance 

3.    Popular Participation and Decision-making in Development

4.    Popular Participation and Development: A Summary of Arab Experiences


First: Community Participation and Political Development: Interconnections of the Relationship

          Popular participation is considered a fundamental aspect for development by most national and international development agencies. Several cooperation entities suggest that "effective participation " should be added to the established criteria for allocating development assistance, as it allows development projects to meet the real needs of the population. Popular participation is closely linked to processes of social change and growth referred to by the term "development. " Furthermore, the positive impact of popular participation on development is evident in higher participation rates in more advanced areas of society compared to lower rates in less developed areas. Popular participation is essential for driving the development process, monitoring it, and steering its course. It serves as a safeguard against deviating from this course and has the capacity to correct the development trajectory in the face of obstacles or challenges.

          As much as popular participation gains importance for political development, political development itself constitutes a framework for community participation. Therefore, the relationship between the two is reciprocal; political development aims to enhance community participation, while popular participation is one of the primary goals of political development, which seeks to increase the effectiveness of public participation in public life, whether in the selection of rulers or in influencing the process of making public policy decisions in society . Without community participation, even the most technically ideal plans cannot be implemented, and there is a risk of the concept of development being hijacked by dominant or activist groups within society. Recognizing the role of popular participation in bringing about development, the concept of "participatory development" has emerged. This concept encourages all individuals in a particular society or organization to participate in shaping their future. It means that public programs should focus on needs identified by the local community itself, enabling individuals in developing communities to participate in the development process and empowering them to contribute effectively to economic, social, and political life. It has become evident that communities suffer deficiencies if any of their members are excluded from the development process or become adversaries to it, such as women, youth, minorities, marginalized groups, and informal settlements.

          Popular participation establishes a connection between the contributions that people make to development through their work and the benefits they receive in return, which include: their involvement in decision-making at local, regional, and national levels, which can contribute to achieving development and building a fair relationship between people's contributions and their benefits. Popular participation is a crucial element in ensuring a development process that is oriented towards the beneficiaries. This aspect includes the necessity of people’s active and effective participation in the stages of thinking, planning, implementing, and evaluating local development, and the necessity of fairness in this participation and its openness to all people without discrimination. Without the participation of community members, and if citizens withdraw from participation and interest in national affairs, the gap between the state and society widens, citizens may feel that the development process does not target them, and their detachment from the general national concept towards lower partial loyalties—regional, sectarian, or ethnic will increase. In such a case, even if the state achieves high development indicators, the citizens' perception of these achievements will not be the same as it would be if they had participated in their creation. Government plans and strategies then become more like top-down visions, which do not integrate with the lifecycle of the community nor align with its objectives.

          Since the early 1990s, African countries have recognized the importance of popular participation. The African Charter for Popular Participation in Development, endorsed by participants at the International Conference on Popular Participation in the Process of Prosperity and Development in Africa held in Arusha in 1990, declared the eleventh day of February each year as African Popular Participation Day, with the motto "Placing Popular Participation at the Forefront." Additionally, the concept of people's participation in their own development is enshrined in the key documents of the United Nations. The Charter of the international organization not only begins with the phrase "We the Peoples of the United Nations," but also declares, among other things, a commitment to "reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women..." and to "promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom ."

          In paragraph 6 of Economic and Social Council Resolution 1929 (LIX) dated May 6, 1975, the Secretary-General of the United Nations was requested, within the framework of the organization's work program and its medium-term objectives and within the limits of available resources, to prioritize, among other things, "encouraging the exchange of knowledge and experiences among countries regarding innovative programs and practices to enhance popular participation in development." Additionally, he was also requested to prioritize "research and studies that would lead to the development of policy measures for popular participation that would enhance its effectiveness in implementing the Second United Nations Development Decade International Development Strategy and future global strategies." The document adopted by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights at its fifty-sixth session held on April 13, 2000, affirmed that effective popular participation is a fundamental factor for the success and sustainability of development. It stated that democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to development, transparency, accountability of governance and administration in all sectors of society, as well as the effective participation of civil society, are all essential pillars for achieving sustainable development centered around society and people.


Secondly: Popular Participation ... and Building Consensus Framework and Good Governance

          Despite the fact that activating mechanisms of popular participation takes some time and may slow down decision-making processes, within the framework of clear constitutional and legal decision-making procedures, it achieves numerous goals that enable it to be a fundamental support for development. It helps reconcile development processes and services it provides to the population with their self-identified and chosen needs. It also allows various segments of society to play a positive role in supporting, implementing, and monitoring developmental projects that affect their communities. Furthermore, popular participation helps rationalize the distribution of services among different groups and levels within society, and increases social cohesion, fosters democratic practices, and reinforces decentralized management approaches. Among the objectives of popular participation are enhancing good governance practices at the local level, fostering trust between citizens and their institutions on the one hand and the local governance bodies on the other hand, and developing channels of communication between local authorities and citizens, which allows citizens to access information and provide feedback. Among the other objectives of popular participation are increasing the effectiveness of services provided by local authorities, raising awareness among citizens and their institutions about the collaborative role in local development, fostering a sense of belonging, responsibility, and commitment to their community, and enhancing citizens' sense of ownership of achievements and the importance of preserving them. Popular participation also helps streamline decision-making processes and prioritize projects based on the population's needs, and it ensures public support for projects. In the absence of participation, public pressure tends to focus on immediate material and consumption needs, overlooking the importance of independent productive development projects. However, popular participation enhances the effectiveness of projects by providing accurate data, establishes healthy relationships that respect community values and customs, and achieves efficient management of local resources.

          For instance, in 1989, the Workers' Party in Brazil launched an initiative for budget participation, whereby several groups of citizens prepared municipal budgets. Citizens identified demands to be included in the city's budget and investment plans through participation in various discussions and preparatory meetings. These demands were prioritized based on the need for specific services and population size, leading to a significant improvement in services and living standards. Between 1989 and 1996, the percentage of households with access to water increased from 80% to 98%, while the percentage connected to the sewage network rose from 46% to 85%. Additionally, school enrollment rates doubled, 30 kilometers of roads were paved annually, and local tax collection rates increased by approximately 50%. The success of this process led to its adoption in over 80 cities in Brazil and Latin America. Similar results were observed in other studies conducted in Arab regions. For example, a study on the effects of public participation in the Hebron Governorate of Palestine indicated that local-level public participation contributes to optimal utilization of expertise and skills, and that it encourages citizens to contribute to the development of their areas. Likewise, in Jordan, another study found a positive impact of community participation in achieving sustainable local development in economic, social, and environmental dimensions in the city of Zarqa.

          If popular participation is essential for development in general, its importance increases during transitional stages following radical changes such as disturbances and revolutions. These stages require the reconstruction of the social contract, the reframing of national consensus, the rewriting of the constitution, and the agreement on the basic rules for managing the transitional phase, which will subsequently govern state administration. These are crucial junctures that necessitate majority participation in decisions and orientations concerning the formulation and construction of new policies. According to the outcomes countries reach during these stages, a new phase of stability or turmoil is established. If the process of popular participation is effectively employed during this stage, it can constitute a viable political framework for years or decades and does not necessarily have to undergo a limited period before being overturned. This is because the process of consensus on public policies garners the greatest consensus and agreement at the exceptional moment when all interests are expressed and represented. This moment, in which various elite factions representing social bases and social divisions have contributed to its creation and agreement, opens up decision-making mechanisms to opportunities that were not available previously.

          However, the danger of transitional periods lies in their susceptibility to power struggles, control dynamics, and forces. During such periods, sectarian, ethnic, or tribal groups may enter the political arena, taking advantage of the weakened control and fragility of the state, to rebuild power structures in a way that serves their interests. This is not conducive to the future of the political development process and internal consensus-building. Therefore, it is important during transitional stages for popular participation to be balanced in a manner that achieves the overarching goals of the popular majority and the political community. However, the experiences gained by certain factions that participated in previous stages of governance enable them, after a period of time, to re-engineer the internal landscape more than others.

          Thus, popular participation works to build development decisions within the broadest possible framework of consensus, and in a way that contributes to achieving political stability. Accordingly, decisions made after a lengthy and extensive societal dialogue and discussion process, which are also based on a wide range of information, are issued according to national public interests on the widest base of information, rather than serving narrow interests or specific factions. These decisions, which entail long-term costs for states and societies, impact the development process to some extent. Popular participation also fortifies political and social legislation against rapid disruption and change, instilling confidence in legislation, institutions, and state apparatuses. Conversely, legislation crafted during periods of turmoil is subject to continuous change, in a way that undermines the perception of law and institutions within society.

          The deprivation of citizens from participating in development decisions often leads to a general disengagement from the state, especially when development plans face obstacles and setbacks resulting from unforeseen external factors. In such cases, there is a natural inclination among citizens to hold the state and the elite, who monopolize decision-making, responsible for the hurdles and problems. This situation sometimes puts the state in a significant predicament. Even if its decisions include grand national projects aimed at future generations, citizens typically have a natural readiness to blame the state. A quick look at the experiences and opportunities for expanding political participation in Arab countries that witnessed revolutions reveals that none of them were able to safely navigate the political transition by expanding political participation. Instead, they either reduced participation, experienced state collapse, or plunged into prolonged crises from which they have yet to recover. All of this indicates a divergence of beliefs between the state and the societies, sometimes not just concerning economics, development factors, and state management, but rather regarding the identity and cultural and political character of the state. These are issues where the gap between them and the agenda of international development organizations appears to be significant.


Thirdly: Popular participation and decision-making in development

          Citizen participation in shaping their public life is essential, starting from the lowest levels of decision-making necessary to mitigate the risks of national disasters, including those related to war and peace, and extending to urban and housing planning decisions in a neighborhood or city. Popular participation provides opportunities for all stakeholders to express their opinions and address their concerns in a manner that ensures the utilization and embodiment of these opinions, covering gaps in deficiencies, and meeting daily needs. Additionally, community participation strengthens the concept of democracy, enhances the sense of responsibility, and increases patriotism. Citizen involvement in decision-making processes facilitates the implementation of plans and programs because the acceptance of existing or new projects, as well as the effort to ensure the success of these projects, can only be achieved through their participation in planning based on their complete understanding and awareness of the benefits and importance of these projects.

          In light of that, the importance of popular participation in relation to decision-making associated with political development can be delineated through five fundamental categories as follows:

1.    Organizing Public Discourse and Setting National Priorities: Through the public engagement facilitated by participation in discussions about governmental plans and policies, starting from local grassroots levels in urban and rural areas, and progressing through sectional and lower levels, to the central structures in major cities and the capital, various patterns of thinking emerge. Moreover, discussions crystallize into bundles of proposals, alternatives, and scenarios that serve as alternatives to decisions. These are then consulted in governmental plans, direction reports, and national priorities, through a broader aggregative and exploratory survey of national interests. This process considers policy constraints, obstacles, and future implementation difficulties. It is akin to constructing laboratories for studying and shaping national ideas and consensus on development concepts. The key is for the process of managing societal dialogue on policies to be based on transparency, honesty, and discipline. Its objective should not simply be the endorsement and adoption of policies that have been pre-agreed upon at higher levels, nor should the role of grassroots participation be limited to endorsing, passing, and establishing grassroots legitimacy, because in such cases, popular participation may not yield significant national benefits; rather, it may waste time and give the illusion of participation in decision-making, only for the truth to be revealed upon the announcement of subsequent plans. Through public participation, priorities and directions are defined based on a broad consensus, compensating for the inability to meet national needs. Public participation can occur through various methods and techniques, including direct participation such as consulting residents and targeted groups through meetings, interviews, public conferences, administrative decentralization by establishing planning institutions at the local administrative level, volunteer organizations, guidance personnel, various media, surveys, studies, and general referendums on specific issues. On the other hand, public participation can occur through indirect participation which can be achieved through designated individuals, commissioned by specific entities, or motivated by personal initiatives.

2.    Democracy Training and Institutionalizing National Thought Centers: Popular participation provides an opportunity to practice democracy, allows citizens to learn social and political roles, supports popular oversight to guide and channel the desire for change, preventing the gap between society and the state from widening, and opens channels of communication between the government and the people by surveying public opinion on development directions and decisions. Through public discussions and dialogues facilitated by community engagement tools, a comprehensive democracy training process takes place, fostering a culture and values of democracy. This includes fostering respect for others and divergent opinions. It also initiates a significant political education process and contributes to building and developing competent personnel. Through the frameworks in which people engage in decision-making processes and discussions about decisions, perspectives vary, and opinions differ. Such discussions become foundational frameworks from which political parties and forces can branch out. Although democracy cannot be considered as the sole governance system for political development, it is mostly the framework that provides the widest societal window for participation through organizational tools, rather than through popular festivals that many countries have known but have failed to build a different model. Therefore, the goal of popular participation in decision-making is not only to establish democracy but also to build strongholds for national thought, which revolves around the national state and does not engage in discussions that entrench sectarian, regional, or religious loyalties. This aspect of political development may indeed be the most crucial need for Arab countries in terms of popular participation, as various Arab countries stand at intermediate stages regarding the construction of the national state. Some are in severe crises where the meanings of the national state have collapsed, and they have effectively turned to solidifying minimal loyalties at the expense of a cohesive national identity. Others have a confirmed national identity but face intense pressure due to their economic situations, while some have not engaged significantly in the debate over national identity because they have financial abundance that does not compel them to engage in such discourse at present. All three Arab cases require the establishment of strongholds for national thought through increased social participation in decision-making, which serves as safety buffers against future challenges.

3.    Crafting Visions, Strategies, and Monitoring Plan and Program Execution: The importance of popular participation in shaping visions and formulating national strategies is emphasized, as most countries tend to develop national and sectoral strategies and visions across various timeframes, including 2025, 2030, 2040, 2050, and possibly 2070. Many Arab countries have adopted this futuristic thinking pattern, introducing various visions and strategies in the aforementioned years, encompassing national ideas and aspirations in diverse fields. These visions and strategies require national adoption and consensus on the widest possible popular scale. As the timeframe of the vision approaches, there is a need for review, sorting, and identifying achievable and unachievable targets, as well as those requiring new impetus after countries have sometimes surpassed their targets faster than anticipated. At the local level, these national visions require evaluations and reviews regarding their financial, political, social, educational, and administrative impacts on various aspects of life and regions within the country. This is necessary to undertake multiple processes of avoidance, alignment, and incorporation: avoiding incorrect orientations or those surpassed by time, excluding those proven to be ineffective or costly, or facing other obstacles or obsolescence, and aligning with and incorporating new ideas and opportunities that were not initially integrated within the framework of the vision. This is the fundamental aspect that requires the utmost attention, as the time gap between the formulation of the vision, possibly since 2015 until its projected end, varying between 2025 and 2070, represents a period ripe for significant changes and the emergence of new opportunities and areas in the national trajectory. This necessitates community participation to endorse and reconsider the vision and strategy accordingly. However, equally important is the monitoring of the achievements of existing visions, with communities engaging in forms of discussion and participation through debate and dialogue regarding the realization or lack thereof of vision objectives, identifying shortcomings and success factors. This should be done strategically and scientifically, based on a comprehensive database and in light of comparisons with the targets and accomplishments of other countries and societies. This is what structures and activities of public participation can accomplish by monitoring the implementation of vision projects, providing opinions that enrich these visions and strategies and correct their implementation mechanisms. They then adjust what they see fit to amend, add, or exclude what they deem necessary to exclude. Thus, public participation becomes instrumental in alleviating the burden on the state economically, while also contributing to increased vigilance over public funds, and enabling citizens to become acquainted with the available development opportunities from both material and technological perspectives.

4.    Building Political Cadres and Shaping Future Leaders: Building political cadres and shaping future leaders constitute a fundamental priority for political development. Political cadres serve as the main instruments for political development, and without a robust process of cadre building, countries lack trustworthy leaders and officials capable of assuming public positions. Here, public participation contributes to leveraging the expertise and specializations of individuals, enabling citizens to participate in planning, implementation, evaluation, and optimal utilization of available resources. Additionally, it stimulates initiatives, contributions, and local development, empowering local communities to access relevant information. Through these processes in local decision-making, discovering, developing, and shaping local leaders and identifying talented youth engaged in discussions, tasks, and operations to excel to a distinguished level is achieved. This enables pushing them to higher levels, constituting an essential process of training and practice for leadership and cadres’ creation. Such endeavors can only be facilitated through popular participation processes, where young generations are integrated into decision-making processes. Societies that do not manage public discussions and general dialogues about national plans and visions deprive themselves of building qualified and trained cadres to assume leadership positions at various levels. Popular participation contributes to leadership with an open mindset rather than a closed mindset centered on a single ideological stance, which often leads to decision-making deviation. Societies accustomed to popular participation represent alternatives to policies and scenarios for leadership and governance change, enabling them to provide ready teams to assume responsibilities when governmental or political change is needed. This is contrary to societies dominated by a single perspective, which are mostly unable to generate alternatives when necessary for change, thus resorting to trial and error. Participation also enhances developmental training and education for citizens and institutions, strengthens the infrastructure for cultural and political understanding within channels of expression such as political parties, civil society organizations, and various decision-making institutions, through newspapers and media outlets. This fosters channels for conveying demands and ideas between grassroots and leadership levels, bolstering confidence in the ability to bear responsibilities. In this scenario, even if the course deviates, there are corrective capacities within it to absorb shocks, avoid revolutions, and violent reactions, favoring gradual reform over violent upheaval, and enabling the self-generation of alternative ideas.

5.    Building Self-Confidence and Enhancing happiness Levels: In addition to the impact of political participation on decisions, policy alternatives, and their outcomes, it holds another significance in psychological and life aspects. It fosters a positive state that encourages work, accomplishment, and a sense of patriotism, contributing to higher levels of happiness and self-fulfillment. Public participation increases overall life satisfaction and enhances the individual's sense of self-worth and appreciation for their community and country. This, in turn, has ripple effects on productivity. Therefore, humans are not just the target of development but also its architects. In his book "Development as Freedom," economist Amartya Sen discusses participation as a fundamental form of development. He views participation in decision-making processes that affect individuals' lives as essential for human well-being and quality of life. He argues that individual political participation creates psychological benefits by fulfilling basic human needs. Over the past decades, there has been a prevailing belief that peoples living under democratic systems enjoy a greater margin of freedom and dignity, live better lives and more significantly contribute to development and nation-building in their countries, while the citizens in autocratic regimes are not involved in shaping the vital decisions of their countries. As a result, the conviction has solidified that democratic systems are better equipped to establish stable foundations for long-term political and economic growth and to foster an environment conducive to thought and creativity. In a subsequent stage, some argued that the transition to democracy not only improves the living standards of citizens but also enhances regional security and global peace. This led to the emergence of the so-called democratic peace theory, which suggests that democratic nations are more inclined towards peace and are more committed to coexistence.


Fourthly: Popular Participation and Development ... A Summary of Arab Experiences

          Over the past decades, most Arab countries have not extensively employed mechanisms of popular participation in a manner that serves national decision-making and development. Despite the emergence of new spectra of issues covered by the plan adopted by the United Nations in 2015 (consisting of 17 goals as part of a new global agenda) regarding sustainable development for 2030, which have many implications for political development issues on the agenda of the new world, such as issues related to health, well-being, peace, prosperity, partnerships, climate, environment, energy, volunteering, poverty eradication, hunger, clean water, decent work, innovation, good education, etc ., through tracking the most prominent milestones and images of the intersection of popular participation with political development in Arab countries, the following observations can be made:

1.    Participation and Development in Governance and Authority: Most Arab political systems have deprived themselves of specialized competencies. Even in countries where political systems are based on sectarian power-sharing, mechanisms of participation in authority have not been able to function naturally. They have remained trapped in the quagmire of sectarianism and power-sharing, failing to transcend towards weaving a cohesive and effective national fabric for political authority. For example, Iraq, once touted as a beacon of democracy and a catalyst for democratic domino effect in the Arab world, has been significantly affected by sectarianism and political power-sharing, with parts of it having reverted to relying on narrow and outdated loyalties. Moreover, most Arab countries that experienced state collapse - in the aftermath of the 2011 revolutions or thereafter - resorted to some form of narrow loyalties, falling into sectarian, tribal, regional, or local affiliations (such as Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen). Most of these Arab countries did not seize the opportunity for change and opening up the Pandora's box of the Arab state to craft new alternatives and options in governance that could contribute to altering their developmental visions or mechanisms in managing the political development process. Despite the rich harvest of the years of change, which witnessed rich and extensive national debates, numerous occasions for parliamentary, legislative and constitutional change, and the convening of conferences for national dialogue and constitutional drafting committees, the situation reverted to its pre-revolution status. The Arab power structure reaffirmed its solidity in form and content, albeit with changes in personnel. The entrenched nature of inherited governance prevailed over various impulses and incentives for change.

2.    Participation and Development through Political Parties: Political parties are one of the most significant manifestations of popular participation and democratic practices. The absence or weakness of party life implies a lack of channels for recruitment, participation, and mass mobilization. Although political parties are one of the most important tools for popular participation, cadre building, and political and social education and recruitment, thereby serving as a breeding ground for leadership from various ideological currents and through which these leaders are intellectually and politically developed, the artificial and sometimes unnatural conditions of emergence of new Arab parties after the 2011 revolutions have prevented them from becoming effective platforms for the development and training of cadres and leaders. Given the difficulty of these parties assuming power, their activity is limited to peripheral issues, with some relying on financial support from regimes. Mostly operating as superficial or "cartoon" parties (apartment or villa parties), their role rarely extends beyond the physical premises they occupy. They lack confidence in their ability to govern someday, thus they do not hold awareness seminars or public conferences, nor do they engage in social or political roles, or even work to increase people's political participation. They witness a decline in membership or experience mass membership (because they are authority parties), without adherence to party principles or interest in instilling them. Personalization practices dominate these parties, led by their leaders. Therefore, perhaps Arab countries, despite their number, have not witnessed a single experience where an opposition civil political party has displaced a ruling party through democratic elections, and if it has occurred, it has been for a limited and exceptional period. This casts doubt on the competency of Arab party life in general. Due to their limited opportunities for governance, these parties do not tend to weigh their political positions according to a sound decision-making process or the standards of good governance. These parties are not accustomed to preparing acceptable policy papers as alternatives to existing or implemented policies. They are considered shadow governments that could assume power, given their lack of conviction that they could someday serve as an alternative to the current regime. Consequently, they resort to rhetoric and produce reports, programs, or statements to avoid political embarrassment. These programs are known beforehand to be unfeasible or impractical, which means that most of their activities are far from forming and preparing the necessary cadres to manage and lead the development process. As for the ruling parties in some Arab countries that rely on a leading or vanguard party, it cannot be said that they witness popular participation in decision-making. This is due to the replication of the nature of governance in the decision-making process within the party, which also deprives them of becoming effective mechanisms for building cadres and conveying the best ideas and decisions, thus contributing to development. The role of political parties is limited to being supportive of the regime, mobilizing the masses, and conveying decisions from the top down without engaging in the fundamental reverse path through gathering and conveying demands and proposals. Here, Arab political parties need to understand the activity map and practices of parties in established party systems. They also need to access the grassroots in rural and urban areas to contribute to building the development plan and the general national direction of the state.

3.    Participation and Development in Professional Unions: Professional and labor unions, chambers of commerce and industry, social and sports clubs, and university faculty clubs constitute some of the most important tools for representing interests and developing professional cadres. They come after political parties as means and tools of participation. Therefore, developing and encouraging civil associations and unions and providing opportunities for their freedom of operation achieve an important part of the participation process. Through these associations and unions, professional leadership elite are formed, who are largely aware of participating in decision-making matters through their work within these organizations. Although the nature of labor unions differs from political parties and focuses on enhancing the conditions of the members of the profession, often their work intersects with the political landscape. Sometimes, authorities employ them to play political roles within professional and business sectors, leading to their politicization. Some unions have occasionally taken on roles beyond their professional mandate, replacing political parties in contexts where party life is weak. At times, they have even shouldered the burden of political life in general. It was not uncommon for authorities to freeze their activities or issue judicial rulings and legislation against them, keeping some unions inactive for extended periods. The nature of Arab political life often places labor unions and chambers of commerce in a position where they are sometimes caught in a conflict between their professional roles, their effort to maximize the conditions of their profession and improving the status of their members, and the practice of roles that expose them to harm and damage. In cases where the role of political parties recedes, disappears, or is subdued by the authorities, labor unions are left without protective tools and political buffers to shield them from the regime. Consequently, this may cause them to become immersed in practices that deviate from their designated roles as defined by legislation, laws, and regulations. At times, they may also succumb to the deficiencies and pressures of political life, leading them not only to fail to replace political parties but also to fail in performing their professional functions. Consequently, failing to defend the interests of their members within the profession. Reforming the situation will not occur without the return of labor unions to their natural roles. The professional and functional role of unions is no less significant than that of political parties; in fact, it may even surpass it. Unions have the potential to achieve elements of satisfaction and serve as missing hubs for social and political dialogue, aiding in rationalizing decision-making processes and contributing to development efforts.

4.    Participation and Development in Local Communities (civil and grassroots): Local development is a process through which effective collaboration between grassroots and governmental efforts can be achieved to enhance the economic, social, and cultural aspects of local communities, from the perspective of improving the quality of life for residents of those local communities at any level of local administration within a comprehensive and integrated system. The international awareness of the importance of local community associations and councils has increased, recognizing their role in implementing diverse developmental and service projects, as well as their responsibility for managing local community affairs and raising local awareness among citizens about local issues and public concerns. On their part, local administration, along with civil society organizations (other than political parties, unions, and chambers), serve as the "institutional framework" that accommodates and organizes citizen participation in local and grassroots national affairs. Other civil society organizations include charitable organizations, service and social welfare organizations, development organizations, diverse cultural associations and societies, human rights and advocacy organizations, as well as associations, clubs, and cooperatives. They are more closely connected to the interests of local communities in rural and urban areas, as well as neighborhood associations. To a large extent, grassroots participation at the local level is considered the educational and training foundation for popular participation in national issues. Popular participation ensures that plans, visions, and strategies are developed with a comprehensive understanding of the realities, demands, and needs. Through popular participation, the expansion and dissemination of development processes can be ensured across rural and urban areas, laying the grassroots foundation for governance, and facilitating education, training, and leadership development. The local structures and institutions for decision-making played a significant role in the Arab revolutions, from which many of their leaders emerged from localities, regions, and pockets that spearheaded the revolution against governing regimes. Its members participated in the revolutions both in central hubs and in the rural and village infrastructures. These structures played a fundamental role during periods of political transition in ensuring political stability amidst the turmoil. Consequently, they formed a strong foundation upon which internal stability relied in some Arab countries.

5.    Elections, Development, and Constitutional Referendums: Electoral participation represents the most prominent aspect of political engagement, being both its most visible form and an integral part of it. This is particularly significant as it encompasses all traditional forms of participation such as candidacy, engagement in political activities, and voting. Electoral participation stands out as the most effective and efficient means of achieving political engagement, as compared to other forms and methods, due to its inherent regularity and continuity. People participate in voting in elections to defend their economic interests and attempt to restore balance in society between the rich and the poor, redistribute wealth, and prevent the monopolization of power. However, the concept of popular participation in elections requires guarantees, the most important of which is institutionalization, where popular participation should not be temporary or seasonal, activated only during election periods. This type of participation is only sustainable in countries that have established institutional frameworks, where institutions translate citizens' interests even during non-election periods. Therefore, it is suitable for countries that have well-institutionalized conditions. As for countries that have not yet been able to build their institutions or are going through transitional periods, their citizens need continuous channels for expressing themselves through representation of interests until their public institutions strengthen and adapt to the practices of aggregating and representing interests. Through observing Arab elections, it becomes evident that they contribute little to political development and provide minimal support for citizen education and political awareness. Sufficient time is not allotted for the preparation of electoral programs or adequate discussions about their content. Moreover, the final outcome may not encourage citizens to further engage in the political process. Overall, Arab elections often reflect the enduring Arab status quo more than they reflect development and renewal.



          The crucial aspects of the relationship between popular participation and development pose significant questions for Arab countries, particularly regarding the following: how to expand genuine popular participation without threatening national security, and how to practice democracy without jeopardizing the nation-state. The years of the second decade of the twenty-first century (following the revolutions) have affirmed that this remains the challenging equation (as some countries have navigated between practices of freedom and acts of violence and terrorism). or so is evident in the experiences of recent years, even if these experiences themselves included deliberate targeting by political forces or ruling regimes to instill fear of democracy and increase of participation, all of this reflects a political reality in Arab countries that must be taken into account.

          It cannot be denied that the period of constrained democracies, experienced in the nineties and the first decade of the third millennium, brought some risks to the experience. It is not known whether this phase, among other factors, paved the way for the revolutions or the extent of its contribution to them. However, the stabilization of situations in some Arab countries since around 2017 to the present, and the readiness of some Arab societies to endure political and economic conditions they previously could not, alongside the prevailing political stability despite tough economic measures, raise questions about the level of awareness and prudence, or about the nature of the existing stability—whether it is strong or weak. It also sheds light on the citizens' assessments and their stance towards development projects and national projects, and their readiness for more patience.

          Generally, Arab experiences, despite their differences and disparities, affirm that popular participation remains the best solution for development, particularly in politics, and affirm also that Arab regimes need to expand participation not just for the benefit of democracy or the populace but also for the benefit of new systems that require popular support for their decisions and elements of support and security from a strong societal backbone that has the ability to support them in facing the harsh measures they sometimes must undertake amidst international, regional, and national circumstances. These circumstances that bring unforeseen risks, challenges, and threats to their economies and national security, cannot be addressed without strong popular backing and an expanded role in decision-making. For instance, crises such as COVID-19, the situation in Ukraine, and Gaza, along with the resulting economic pressures on some Arab states, and the accompanying difficult national decisions—as well as upcoming major national decisions while still midway through severe debt crises—call for building greater popular consensus to secure the domestic front. This can only be achieved by broadening popular participation in decision-making and reconstructing the vision regarding the future of the political situation.

          On the other hand, it is also important for political forces, civil society organizations, and human rights associations to guide their orientations and decisions. Lessons from practices before and after 2011 should be learned by all, so their calls for change should be characterized by a higher level of prudence, because excessive ambition can be detrimental, requiring a change in rhetoric and consideration of the specificity of the Arab conditions and circumstances.


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