PREM Notes

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This note series is intended to summarize good practices and key policy findings on poverty reduction and economic management (PREM) topics.

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    Alternative Dispute Resolution - When It Works, When It Doesn't
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2005-09) Messick, Richard E.
    Alternative dispute resolution encompasses arbitration, mediation, conciliation, and other methods-short of formal litigation-for resolving disputes. Alternative dispute resolution offers several advantages over a lawsuit. It is less adversarial and in some cases can be faster and less expensive. It can also reduce court workloads. For these reasons its use is being promoted by court reformers in many developing and transition economies.
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    Strengthening Legislatures : Implications from Industrial Countries
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2002-03) Messick, Richard E.
    With more developing and post-communist states embracing democracy, improving the performance of their congresses, parliaments, and other legislative assemblies has become a must. These bodies make laws, hold the executive branch accountable, and represent citizen interests. Good governance demands that each of these tasks be done well. Thus aid agencies have begun supporting programs that train legislators and their staff, provide computers and buildings, and otherwise strengthen the legislative branch of government. But while some programs have succeeded, the overall results have been disappointing. One reason is that many programs have ignored a key principle of public sector reform: success requires changing the incentives facing public officials (World Bank 2000). More effective legislative aid programs will require donors to understand what motivates legislators and how those incentives can be altered. This note surveys the main factors shaping incentives for legislators in industrial countries and suggests how these factors can inform legislative reform in developing and transition economies.
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    Writing an Effective Anticorruption Law
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2001-10) Messick, Richard E. ; Kleinfeld, Rachel
    The note looks at effective anticorruption legal instruments. However, law enforcement measures are not the first or necessarily the preferred method of defense. An informed citizenry, a government imbued with a service ethic, and other measures can be more effective in combating corruption. But tailoring the law to improve enforcement capacity generally encompasses a variety of statutes that prohibit bribery, nepotism, conflicts of interest, and favoritism in the award of contract or the provision of government benefits. And writing such laws containing "bright-line rules" in contrast to those containing standards open to interpretation by enforcement agencies may make it easier to monitor compliance and enforcement, but also rob the law of flexibility. Such laws often must be simplified to the point of arbitrariness-making them harder to accept than broadly-worded standards, which often conform to intuitive social understandings. The cost of bright-line rules are often more than offset by their deterrence value and their value in facilitating monitoring in countries with weak enforcement agencies. However, no statute can avoid some open-textured provisions. When a section in an anticorruption law must leave something open to question, one way to reduce enforcers' discretion is to establish a procedure for obtaining advance rulings. Finally, the author recommends laws that help bring corruption to light, such as a freedom of information law.