Promoting political and social reforms

Project description

Title: Structural and regulatory policy fund
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Guatemala
Lead executing agency: Planning and Programming Secretariat of the Presidency SEGEPLAN
Overall term: 2013 to 2022

Context

Since the peace accords were signed in 1996, if not before, Guatemala has been under massive pres-sure to implement political, economic, legal and social reforms. Such reforms are expected to strengthen the rule of law, revitalise the justice system, help resolve land issues, promote respect for human rights and consolidate democracy. The country still faces these challenges today, nearly 25 years after signing the peace accords.

German development cooperation is already promoting the initiatives of state, civil society and private actors that address the issues prioritised by the government and aim to bring about structural reforms. Attempts at reform to date have often failed because the proposals were either not prepared on a sufficiently sound technical basis or were insufficiently publicised and subjected to public debate. It is precisely in these two areas that the project comes in. 

Objective

Proposed reforms in fields such as democratic security and justice, economic development, social inclusion and sustainable rural development are discussed and implemented in a transparent and par-ticipatory manner.

Approach

Structural and regulatory policy changes need political backing, time and initiative. The Fund thus only supports initiatives that meet the following criteria: 

1. Relevance: Initiatives must address the areas of action prioritised by the government and strengthen the priority areas of German development cooperation. They should also have widespread backing.

2. Capacity for implementation: The institutions behind the initiatives have the necessary technical and administrative capacities. They are also in a position to continue a reform even after the project ends.

3. Feasibility: Initial results are already visible during the period of support for the fund and can be triggered with a comparatively small budget. The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH has the necessary expertise to provide technical support for the initiative.

4. Transparency and participation: Institutions proposing an initiative encourage transparent public discussion to improve the proposal and coordinate it with the various sectors affected. 

The Fund’s steering committee comprises representatives of the Guatemalan Planning and Programming Secretariat of the Presidency (SEGEPLAN), the German Embassy in Guatemala, GIZ and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The committee has supported 14 measures to date and is currently funding 14 new measures.

Results

The results of the completed measures include:

  • New investigation techniques are now used to prosecute violations of the freedom of the press and of expression. Together with the Civitas journalists’ association, the project has supported the production of guidelines for public prosecutors on investigating crimes against the freedom of expression. As a result, criminal offences against journalists should also be registered, investigated and judged as such. The new investigation techniques are intended to reduce impunity and protect the freedom of expression.
  • The Secretariat of Planning and Programming is now in a better position to advise on formulating, implementing and monitoring development policies. For this purpose, the project has supported strategic planning and capacity building for advising sectoral ministries, as well as regional administrations and other public institutions. To supplement this, the project has automated and consolidated SEGEPLAN’s information technology systems. 
  • The project has introduced a monitoring mechanism to document judgements and recommendations made by the inter-American and universal human rights systems. Employees of the Guatemalan Commission on Human Rights (COPREDEH) and other governmental institutions have been trained to use the monitoring mechanisms.

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