Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman stressed on the role of country specific democratic institutions to achieve SDG Goals at Oxford Seminar
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Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman, Executive Director, BIGD (Top left) is seen at Oxford University's
5th Seminar on Advancing Good Governance in international Development

Active role of country specific democratic institutions is crucial for implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Besides, the NGOs need to find a balance between providing services and advocacy with accountability to achieve the goals, says Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman, Executive Director of BIGD, BRAC University at the Oxford University’s 5th Seminar on Advancing Good Governance in international Development- Peace, Security, and Governance in Goal 16: How Do We Tackle, from 9-10 June, 2016 at the Rhodes House, OXFORD.  

Dr. Rahman was invited as a Speaker at the event. He was one of the distinguished panelists in the closing plenary of the event: Transforming the Institutions of Global Governance: What Does Goal 16 Demand? of the event.

In his discussion, Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman highlighted the role of country specific democratic institutions for implementing the SDGs. Agreed at the United Nations in last September, the SDGs comprise 17 goals and 169 targets aimed at resolving social, economic and environmental problems by 2030.

Referring to the current scenario of democratic institutions in Bangladesh, Dr. Rahman said that, Bangladesh is an example of a nation where deeply divided interests have led to a governance vacuum. Historically, tensions between the secular segment of population and those who oppose it partly have led to political bifurcation between the ruling party (the AL) and a heterogenous opposition which represents a whole range of political interest from secular Muslims to fringe elements believed to have extremist links. In the absence of well solid democratic governance institutions, changes to the equilibrium between those two groups have led to conflict.

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In relation to activism, Dr. Rahman told that, NGOs need to find a balance between providing services and advocacy with accountability. In an atmosphere of increased distrust, some governments have missed the opportunity to motivate and engage their own citizens. NGOs have been seen as prime movers in innovating and promoting grassroots approaches that embrace civil society as advocates for change. However, those same NGOs have also taken on the role of service delivery, which has diluted their activist role. On the other hand it also led to a weakening of government provision of services and responsiveness to citizens. NGOs need to rethink their role in light of these ‘tensions’. 

Mr. Amar Bhattacharya, Senior Fellow, Global Economy and Development Program, Brookings Institution, and Professor Ngaire Woods, Dean, Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford were present with Dr. Rahman in the plenary.

From BIGD, Md. Harun Or Rashid, Research Associate also participated in the Seminar as part of the Institute’s capacity building and networking on the SDGs. In the Seminar, among others, Ian Goldin, Professor and Director of Oxford Martin School; Dr. Jemilah Mahmood, Under Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and former Head of the World Humanitarian Summit Secretariat; Ms. Saba Al Mubaslat, CEO, Humanitarian Leadership Academy; Mr. Alexander Betts, Professor of Refugee and Forced Migration Studies, Oxford Department of International Development; and Mr. Phil Vernon, Director of Programmes, International Alert participated as invited Speakers at the event.

The annual seminar is jointly organised by Camfed International, the Oxford Department of International Development, the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Saïd Business School, and Linklaters. It brings together thought leaders and practitioners from civil society, government, academia, and the private sector with the goal of facilitating dialogue on the topic of governance and how to make development more effective and sustainable.