Human Development Report 2002

Deepening Democracy in a Fragmented World

Politics matter for human development. Reducing poverty depends as much on whether poor people have political power as on their opportunities for economic progress. Democracy has proven to be the system of governance most capable of mediating and preventing conflict and of securing and sustaining well-being. By expanding people's choices about how and by whom they are governed, democracy brings principles of participation and accountability to the process of human development.

This Report is about politics and human development. It is about how political power and institutions—formal and informal, national and international—shape human progress. And it is about what it will take for countries to establish democratic governance systems that advance the human development of all people—in a world where so many are left behind.

Politics matter for human development because people everywhere want to be free to determine their destinies, express their views and participate in the decisions that shape their lives. These capabilities are just as important for human development—for expanding people’s choices—as being able to read or enjoy good health.

The Report argues that:

  • For politics and political institutions to promote human development and safeguard the freedom and dignity of all people, democracy must widen and deepen;
  • Just as human development requires much more than raising incomes, governance for human development requires much more than having effective public institutions;
  • To be plural and independent, the media must be free not only from state control but also from corporate and political pressures;
  • Increased pluralism in global politics has been aided by new forms of collaboration between governments and global civil society groups;
  • International efforts to promote change do not work if national actors feel excluded.