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Does democracy deliver development?

About this podcast episode

Democracy has long been heralded as a key cornerstone of sound, legitimate governance by liberal democracies. In this episode of our “Democracy and Development” series, Dr Brian Wong and Alan Doss enjoy a candid, rich, and riveting exchange on the relations between democracy and development, delving into multiple cases including China, Congo, Myanmar, and other countries, as well as examining the role of UN in democracy and development.

Reflecting on his decades of working experience in many poor and war-torn countries, a key message from Alan Doss is that democracy is not a panacea for development. Democratic governance must deliver for people otherwise confidence in democracy will erode, especially among young people in newly democratizing countries. In Alan’s view, democracy can drive development by ensuring greater accountability and inclusion and notes the observation of Nobel Economics Laureate Amartya Sen that democracies don’t have famines. Alan argues, however, that democracy cannot be imported; it has to be a “local construct.” He adds that conflict destroys development. But as a former Under Secretary of UN, he acknowledges the limitations of the UN in securing peace and development, remarking that the UN is not a fully “democratic” institution itself, given the veto authority bestowed on only five of the 194 members of the UN. 

About the host 
Dr Brian Wongis an Assistant Professor at Hong Kong University and Fellow at Oxford Global Society

About the speaker 
Mr Alan Doss is a former Under Secretary General of the United Nations & former President of Kofi Annan Foundation

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