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Democracy, Human Rights and Governance

Conflict Management Training
Leaders after a conflict sensitive training workshop in Kasese district
USAID/Supporting Access to Justice, Fostering Peace and Equity Activity

Uganda has an opportunity to create a more accountable and responsive government and an electoral system capable of enabling a growing number of citizens to participate peacefully in politics. A more accountable and responsive government will increase citizen commitment to democratic governance and reduce tensions among political, regional and ethnic groups.

USAID assists the Government of Uganda to build and sustain a democratic, well-governed state that responds to the needs of its growing population. USAID aims to strengthen democracy and governance systems and help make them more accountable. USAID’s program also assists in making the voices of marginalized people heard—particularly women and youth—and shapes the role of civil society in governance. This kind of inclusive approach ensures that citizens enjoy a participatory style of governing and that leaders benefit from the views of more constituents.

In the aftermath of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) conflict in Northern Uganda, USAID programs address emerging access to justice issues and sources of tension, such as land disputes, the discovery of oil, cultural and ethnic diversity and residual effects of the LRA conflict in northern Uganda. USAID works to strengthen the separation of powers, fight corruption and encourage more effective and participatory governance through a variety of activities with national and local governments, the Electoral Commission, civil society, political parties and unrepresented groups. 

In addition, USAID also works with civil society to broaden citizen participation and strengthen grassroots organizations, enabling them to effectively promote reforms at both the national and local level, including advocacy on issues surrounding gender equity, human rights and corruption. USAID is committed to supporting free and fair elections, strengthening national and local governments as well as civil society and building the capacity of institutions and systems to combat corruption. 

Political Participation

Since Uganda established a multi-party system of governance in 2005, USAID has been actively supporting the development of a system of governance in which all voices are heard and respected. The Agency, in partnership with political parties, civil society organizations and parliamentary caucuses, works to increase party representation and promote effective citizen participation. USAID has also had several capacity building programs that advance policy research and support the development of parties’ platforms and messaging. USAID has also been involved in developing innovative ways of using new technologies to support free and fair elections throughout the country. USAID’s programs also worked to increase participation from underrepresented groups in the country, namely women and youth. The Agency sponsored a women’s democracy fair, connected women and youth with mentors and internship opportunities and provided campaign training for women and youth leaders. Through these programs, USAID has been helping to create a space for all voices, including those of women, youth, and other minorities, to be heard.

Governance and Rule of Law

Uganda’s lack of transparency and accountability of financial resources, weak institutional government, and civil society capacity pose significant challenges to good governance. USAID works to build the capacity of Uganda’s multi-party Parliament and local governments, strengthening their ability to provide public services and respond to citizen needs. USAID activities have enabled Parliament members to interact directly with local government and civil society leaders on critical legal and policy issues.The program contributes to advancing and protecting socio-economic development through support to national-level and grass-roots structures that uphold respect for human rights and rule of law in Uganda. As regards legal structures, the program works with the judiciary to contribute to judicial independence and partners with civil society to strengthen human rights advocacy and uphold media freedoms in Uganda. The main goal is to cultivate a more legitimate rule of law framework and safeguard human rights by infusing approaches that allow for meaningful participation and inclusion of women, youth, persons with disabilities and other marginalized groups and strengthening of local institutions contributing to local ownership and local solutions.

USAID’s programs also help local governments carry out community initiatives by fostering participatory development planning and improving the operations of multiparty local councils. As a result, citizens are participating more actively in local government planning and budgeting processes, leading to more open and transparent approval and execution of district budgets. USAID training has helped local governments assess their progress and identify development priorities in line with those at the national level. 

Civil Society Participation

Uganda’s multi-party Parliament and local governments provide opportunities for citizens to participate in the formulation of policies and laws and development and implementation of activities. However, both governmental and nongovernmental actors often lack the knowledge, experience and resources to participate effectively and improve laws, policies and service delivery. 

USAID activities enhance the capacity of Uganda’s civil society organizations to more effectively inform citizens of issues that touch their daily lives, gather information from citizens on the quality of service delivery and advocate for changes that will lead to more effective functioning of government and improved service delivery. With USAID support, these organizations made key contributions to national and local government institutions; provided crucial input to policies and bills; and facilitated activities that improved parliamentary oversight, local planning and budgeting processes and the delivery of public services. For example, in the northern town of Arua, civil society advocacy made a new food security and nutrition ordinance official.

Last updated: November 08, 2016

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