SDI believes that good governance is the result of and based on legitimacy (consent of the citizens), participation in decision-making processes, responsible stewardship, ethical conduct, transparency, predictability and accountability. SDI is dedicated to provide technical support to the government systems and institutions to improve their accountability, transparency, effectiveness and responsiveness to the needs of their citizens. SDI believes that good governance is vital for sustainability and growth of a democratic system in post-conflict settings. SDI’s approach to supporting good governance includes, but are not limited to, strengthening legislative systems, improving local governance, reforming and building capacities of the government institutions, supporting rule of law and service delivery through citizen engagement, promoting independent and strong media and anti-corruption policy reforms and tools.
SDI believes that participation of citizens is vital for democracy. Citizen participation may include, but are not limited, paying taxes, voting in elections, running for office, supporting rule of law, playing the role of a watchdog and oversight of the local and central government practices, engaging in community and public services, voicing themselves and their communities or becoming a volunteer member of CSOs. Civil society is a key pillar of democracy in all societies. CSOs play an important role in protecting citizens’ rights, promoting rule of law, supporting the government in providing services to public, monitoring the government’s practices in accordance to the laws and constitution to ensure transparency, accountability and responsiveness. CSOs’ role in oversight, investigation and advocacy is crucial if an official abuses power. In a democratic system, CSOs hold governments accountable for their actions. SDI is committed to work with and support CSOs in post-conflict societies through building their organizational capacity, advocacy networking and activities, public engagement and services, access and engagement in policies and decision-making processes, fundraising techniques and financially self-reliance strategies.
Although ran by the majority, the rights of the minority is always protected in a democratic system. Democracy emphasizes pluralism (different faiths, races, genders, ages, ethnicities and cultures) and political tolerance. Democracy provides freedom of speech and participation in power (national level decision making processes) through elections for all citizens and political parties and it protects this right through the constitution. Political parties also play a vital role in growth of democracy. SDI is dedicated to support and work with political parties in-line with the constitution of the countries to improve their organizational capacity, advocacy, participation in democratic processes, observing and investigating government’s practices in accordance to the law and holding government accountable to its duties and commitments.
ecent technological innovations have opened new ways to providing services, sharing information, instant communication and, of course, advocacy activities. Technology has had a significant impact on democracy worldwide. Citizens of all democratic societies have been the pioneers of using technology for their benefits – including voicing themselves, conducting advocacy for certain local and national issues and holding their governments accountable. Governments can and must use technology for providing quicker, more cost-effective and reliable services to their public. Low resource and post-conflict contexts have the least capacity and technological tools to ensure transparency, accountability and provision of certain services. SDI is committed to work with governments, CSO, political parties and all other stakeholders in developing technological tools and techniques that supports good governance.
Citizen participation in democratic processes is not just a right – it is their duty to participate in all democratic processes. Citizen participation builds a stronger democracy. A peaceful transfer of power from one set of leaders to another is an important democratic process. The legitimacy of a democracy system is based on and measured by elections. The result of elections determines the winner (majority, which will run the office until the next elections) and the loser (minority, which will play the role of opposition during the term of office). It is of paramount importance for democracy’s sustainability and the governments’ legitimacy to ensure transparent, free, fair, timely and genuine elections. This includes providing an environment in which citizens participate without fear and obstruction, CSOs, political parties, media, candidates and all other stakeholders (such as local and international observers) can operate freely. SDI works with electoral institutions, CSOs and political parties to help them ensure fair and free elections. This includes, but is not limited to, electoral reforms, observation methods and tools, voter education, improved advocacy, strengthened political parties and empowered media.
In a democracy, all citizens have equal opportunities and rights – disregard of their faith, political view, race, sexual orientation, gender and age. All citizens are treated equally before the law and equally protected by the law. All democracies respect and protect human rights of citizens, including but not limited to, religion, speech, movement, economic, assembly and demonstrations. SDI is committed to working with CSOs and political parties to educate them on a variety of effective non-violent advocacy techniques. SDI works with media to promote non-violence and non-violent approaches to advocacy to citizens and democratic institutions. SDI works with the government on reforming policies regarding citizens and all other democratic institutions’ rights and ensuring their safety during advocacy activities. SDI believes and promotes peaceful approaches towards settlements, resolving conflicts and advocacy activities (e.g. demonstrations). SDI’s approach in this area includes conducting researches and policy papers on anti-violence, counter-terrorism and conflict resolution through peaceful techniques. SDI also provides a resource center for all democratic institutions worldwide, in the SDI website, to have access to researches, articles, videos and documentaries on non-violence.
For a democratic system to grow and sustain, it is essential for all citizens – including minorities and the marginalized groups – to participate. Almost all countries endeavor to respond to this critical element of democracy as they have certain groups of population that are marginalized. These include, and may not limit to, religious minority, ethnic minority, people with disability, LGBTI community, youth and women. Each society has its own reason for this dilemma (e.g. cultural biases, traditional heritance of power, racism, social stereotypes, etc.). Diversity, pluralism and tolerance are as much of importance as is participation in a democratic system. For instance, women are still under-represented elected officials, political leaders and voters in almost all democratic societies. SDI is committed to working with democratic institutions (e.g. governments, CSOs, political parties, media and all other stakeholders) to promote equal access, diversity, pluralism, tolerance and participation of all citizens in democratic processes. SDI is dedicated to eradicating barriers the marginalized groups face in post-conflict countries.
Ever since the start of using democracy as a system of government, it has been evolving. As a result, there are various models and practices of democracy that are used globally. The more countries practice democracy, the more challenges arise and the more reforms are required. All these suggest conducting researches on each aspect of different models and how to improve them. SDI is committed to form work-groups and networks at local and global levels to contribute in this discourse. This process will provide an opportunity for all stakeholders to engage in a debate on local and critical issues, review literature, share new research on democracy related issues and topics and learn from democratic practices that, with some adaptations, could resolve issues at local and national levels. SDI uses the most up-to-date, evidence-based research findings, with collaboration of indigenous experts to develop policies that inform its key areas of practice (e.g. Institutional Development, Elections, Advocacy and Lobbying and Research and Learning). The product of this process will be shared at local and global levels through SDI’s social media and website. SDI also offers expertise in designing and conducting evaluations, institutional training, policy development and analysis, knowledge management, strategy design, and many more.