COVID response: Governance
The COVID-19 crisis has shown the critical importance of effective and responsive governance systems and institutions. Transparency and accountability on actions taken has the potential to reinforce the crisis response and further underpin people’s trust in government and democratic processes and civic engagement in terms of compliance with the imposed limitations.
In a time when human rights and access to justice could be compromised and inequalities exacerbated due to increasing quarantines and clamp downs, UNDP works to ensure that gains made on gender equality, non-discrimination and other human rights will not be rolled back. The crisis also presents specific justice needs, such as addressing the rise in gender-based violence and making additional institutional reforms to strengthen the effectiveness of the justice chain in a radically shifted social context.
We’ve seen the need for significant support and investments in effective digital governance, particularly to bridge digital divide, enhance literacy and ensure the continuity and delivery of core government functions and services. But this digital transformation must go hand-in-hand with strengthening organizational structure, developing skills and leadership, and protecting privacy.
COVID-19 has also threatened social cohesion, with increased polarization, hate speech and stigmatization. That is why pandemic responses need to build confidence and relationships between government and its citizens through an approach anchored in human rights, extensive collaboration, and innovation to advance the (new) social contract.
Like many other crises, the pandemic provides fertile ground for corruption to flourish, especially in societies with weak governance institutions, lack of transparency and accountability, and lack of trust in government structures. At the same time, crises like this are an opportunity for the public and private sector to raise their commitments in addressing corruption and building a culture of integrity and accountability.
This area of work is more important than ever as the government (both at the central and local levels) comes under pressure to navigate crisis and uncertainty, deliver digitized services, enable access to information and social protection, and function in transparent, accountable and effective ways. Government and civil society will need to work together to advance social cohesion and gender equality while upholding human rights and the rule of law.