To facilitate applied research that leads to a richer academic environment as well as more effective strategies of implementation, SUNY/CID sponsors periodic conferences on topics relevant to legislative strengthening and other areas of democracy and governance.
Constituency Development Funds (CDF) Workshop
A Constituency Development Fund (CDF) is a policy tool, which dedicates public money to benefit local communities through spending decisions under the influence of their political representatives. They are controversial and can divide regionally based politicians from those in central government who fear that such tools will diminish their authority. Further, the operations of CDFs raise questions about how such service delivery can be managed, overseen and evaluated; about legislators' development priorities; and about divergent ways that 'representation' is defined in different political contexts.
SUNY/CID's workshop in December was the first step of a long-term research effort. It comparatively addressed three dimensions of CDFs: policy making, effectiveness as a development tool, and mechanisms for sustainability. This meeting was followed by a major conference in autumn, 2010 in Kenya that brought together scholars, practitioners and development professionals to explore CDFs comprehensively and to devise practical guidelines for their effective operations.
This paper by Dr. Mark Baskin of SUNY Center for International Development summarizes SUNY/CID's May 2010 workshop on distributive policy making in New York State that was part of its comparative project on Constituency Development Funds (CDFs).
Second International Conference on Legislative Strengthening
Sponsored by USAID's Center for Democracy and Governance, The Second International Conference on Legislative Strengthening focused on the representation function and the effects of various political, structural, and institutional factors.
Among the 165 people from 30 countries participating at this conference were USAID democracy officers, including Director of the Center for Democracy and Governance Ms. Jennifer L. Windsor, implementing partners, MPs and staff, representatives from other international donors, and academics.
Approximately 65 speakers, panelists, and moderators participated in the conference sessions. The conference agenda addressed legislative outreach to constituents, civil society and marginalized groups; the effect of globalization on legislatures and legislative development; and alternative approaches to legislative programming.
USAID International Conference on Legislative Strengthening
The 1st USAID International Conference on Legislative Strengthening was held in Santa Cruz, Bolivia in 1996. This conference brought together legislative specialists, legislators, academics, and USAID officers and other donor experts from 13 nations in an effort to identify the best practices among legislative strengthening projects worldwide. Following the conference, SUNY/CID published and distributed Best Practices from the International Conference on Legislative Strengthening. As a result of the overwhelming success of this conference, a follow-on conference entitled The 2nd USAID International Conference on Legislative Strengthening was held in Wintergreen, Virginia in June, 2000.
International Speakers Forum
The SUNY Center for International Development's International Speakers Forum invites distinguished leaders and opinion makers from academia, government, business and non-governmental organizations to address significant global issues. SUNY/CID is dedicated to promoting international development through interdisciplinary collaboration. The International Speakers Forum allows us to share insights gained through our work and to promote discussion with the larger university community.
At right, Yunus Qanuni, former Afghanistan speaker, addressing the SUNY/CID's International Speaker Forum.