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Poverty, Democracy and Development

Issues for Consideration by the Commonwealth Expert Group on Democracy and Development

image of Poverty, Democracy and Development

A companion volume to Making Democracy Work for Pro-poor Development, this paper was written as a background note for the Commonwealth Expert Group on Democracy and Development, and was key in clarifying some of the major themes to be deliberated by the Group, chaired by the current Prime Minister of India, Hon. Manmohan Singh. It is in four parts. The first part reviews the extent of poverty and outlines some of the particular challenges confronting democracies in the current historical situation. The second part discusses the links between conflict, poverty and development on the one hand and democracy and good governance on the other, and possible ways by which support may be provided to democracies in combating poverty. The third part discusses possible strategies for winning global support, and the role of the Commonwealth in mobilising such support. The fourth part provides a summary of issues for the consideration of the Expert Group.

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Aid and Debt Cancellation

If we take the view that peace, good governance and pro-poor growth policies can go a long way towards reducing poverty, then the resources required for poverty reduction are less of a problem than might be implied from a continuation of present trends. If, added to that, the global trade regime was to become pro-poor and systemic improvements to the global system were to reduce the vulnerability of the poor through less exposure to financial crises (see the next Section), then the outlook would seem to improve even further. It can also be argued that as governance improves, poverty is reduced and political stability develops, there will be enhanced private financial flows to such countries, filling the resource gaps in the context of combating poverty.

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