National Human Development Report 2000: Reorienting the State

01 Aug 2000


The Human Development Report, Mongolia 2000 argues for a transition to a new kind of state that is even more democratic and participatory. One that widens the opening for private initiative and creative thinking. The state must know when to step forward but also when to step back. This will mean ensuring the provision of many of the ‘public goods’ that markets alone will not offer. Thus, for example, the state has a key role in protecting Mongolia’s environment. There is a tendency for enterprises to regard the land, the air or the water as free resources that they can profitably exhaust or pollute at will. By the standards of some other countries, Mongolia’s environment is still in fairly good shape. But there are worrying signs – particularly in the forested area and in pasture land, of which 70% is now thought to be degraded. The winter snow emergency (1999/2000) has shown the dramatic link between the pastures, the animals and the well-being of the herders.


The report suggests seven responsibilities of the state: protecting national security; nsuring human rights; establishing the rule of law; managing economic growth; protecting the environment; offering adequate social  protection; and fostering the development of democracy.


Performing these functions efficiently will require a civil service that is trained and skilled and – just as important – prepared to open its mind to new ways of working. Public servants have to be receptive to public participation at all levels, and willing to work with community groups,  with NGOs, with the private sector - all sections of civil society. Mongolia should not be aiming for large government or for small government, but for government that is strong, effective and that lays the foundations needed for sustainable human development.

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