27, August, 2012

Multi-actor Dialogues for Better Public Policies: Lessons from Latin America

The elaboration of public policy agendas and legislative initiatives through multi-actor dialogues is playing a fundamental role in strengthening democratic practices in Latin American countries. What are some of the key experiences in the region?

During the past twenty years, multi-actor dialogues have played an important part in the consolidation of democratic processes in Latin America and in increasing the participation of organised sectors of civil society in defining and overseeing public policies. To explore how these dialogues have worked in Latin America, this Brief focuses on three emblematic multi-actor dialogues in Latin America, coming from Argentina, Peru and Mexico, that are representative of the variety of political systems present in the region.  The Brief highlights the methodological and contextual factors that influenced their success and identifies best practices that have the potential to be replicated in other regions of the world.

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Key Lessons:

  • Those core actors promoting multi-actor dialogues must include a wide range of stakeholders and have gained legitimacy in the eyes of participants, as this is indispensable for creating an environment of open communication and collaboration. The role of intermediary actors that have high political capital creates the potential for substantive decisions and effective medium-term implementation.
  • Formulating national policies on complex topics, such as security, requires working through coalitions that are effectively able to redefine key questions, shift the terms of debate and establish new common points of convergence to transcend previously polarised discussions.
  • For participants to commit themselves to the dialogue in place, the agenda set must be able to influence formal decision making processes. To have lasting effects, it must be able to link the results or outcomes of the dialogue to concrete results.
  • (Español) El papel de los actores intermediarios, que tienen un alto capital político legitimado por todos los participantes, aumenta el potencial para alcanzar decisiones sustantivas y para asegurar su implementación efectiva a mediano plazo.
  • (Español) La formulación de las políticas nacionales sobre temas complejos, como la seguridad, exige trabajar a través de coaliciones que sean realmente capaces de redefinir cuestiones claves, cambiar los términos del debate y establecer nuevos puntos comunes de convergencia que trasciendan previas discusiones polarizadas.

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