Public Administration, Local Governance & Participation

Issues of public administration, local governance, and participation in processes are seen to plan a vital role in overarching issues of peacebuilding. They are decisive for the legitimacy of the state which rests in its capacity to deliver on its political promises, and perform specific functions. Local governance structures and public administration are essential facilitators of this responsibility. The mechanisms enacted at local levels and the administrators that comprise these systems are the channel through which policy becomes action, and by which functions and services of the state are allocated. Participation is vital to facilitating a deliberative relationship between the state and citizenry. This writing is divided up into five substantive parts.

To begin, definitional and conceptual issues are presented. This includes discussing terminology on and delimiting between: public administration, forms of governance, and participation.

Following this, the interplay between public administration, local governance, participation, and war and peace, are elaborated upon. This covers the role of neo-liberal policies in limiting public administration, which has even heightened potentials for conflict. Further, the functions of governance and administration as paramount in actuating the functions of the state are explained. Finally, participation as a key means of establishing trust between government and the general population is discussed. These three attributes are central to establishing legitimate statehood.

As in any other sector, one key issue has to do with the interaction between local and international actors who provide assistance. Main activities in which these actors engage include determination of the form of public administration to put in place, civil service reform, vetting of public institutions, different possibilities and forms of decentralization, modes of governing at the local level, means of managing issues of corruption, and models of participation and civic engagement processes.

In issues of public administration, local governance, and participation key debates arise about important assumptions on which basis many interventions are made. These have substantial consequences for implementation. Disagreements concern a range of issues, including: the benefits and drawbacks of decentralization, the models of democracy to be employed in local governance structures, and disagreements on the merits and risks of participatory models. Key implementation difficulties that are subsequently reviewed are issues of sustainability and sequencing; issues of service delivery in fragile contexts; establishing means of representing underrepresented and disparate groups in local governance structures; managing legacies of clientelism and corruption in administration and governance; and problems that arise when utilizing transitional administrations.
The final section turns to a number of case studies. These can be divided into elaborated case studies, and suggested ones to be expanded upon. Current cases studies are drawn from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone, and Uganda, while Afghanistan, Indonesia, and Tajikistan are put forth as suggested case studies.

Thus, this writing reviews concepts, activities, debates, challenges, and cases on various attributes of public administration, local governance, and participation. These sections highlight the central role these processes and structures play in building peace, which explain the many linkages with other topics elaborated upon on the Peacebuilding Initiative portal.

The news, reports, and analyses herein are selected due to there relevance to issues of peacebuilding, or their significance to policymakers and practitioners. The content prepared by HPCR International is meant to summarize main points of the current debates and does not necessarily reflect the views of HPCR International or the Program of Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research. In addition, HPCR International and contributing partners are not responsible for the content of external publications and internet sites linked to this portal.