Human Development Report 2002
This Human Development Report is first and foremost about the idea that politics is as important to successful development as economics. Sustained poverty reduction requires equitable growth—but it also requires that poor people have political power. And the best way to achieve that in a manner consistent with human development objectives is by building strong and deep forms of democratic governance at all levels of society.
That assertion remains controversial. Many detractors suggest that, particularly in developing countries, democracy tends to be too messy, uncontrolled and prone to manipulation and abuse to provide the stability and continuity needed for sustained social and economic reform. But as the Report makes clear, such arguments are wrong on two grounds. First, while there is clearly scope for legitimate and lively debate on what policies and practices are best for securing economic growth, democracies are on balance no worse than other forms of government in boosting economic performance. And democracies are notably better in meeting the most pressing social needs of citizens, particularly at moments of crisis or displacement that most affect poor people. Second— and just as important—democratic participation is a critical end of human development,not just a means of achieving it.