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13 Harv. Hum. Rts. J. 1 (2000)
Building Democratic Institutions: The Role of National Human Rights Institutions in Good Governance and Human Rights Protection

handle is hein.journals/hhrj13 and id is 7 raw text is: Building Democratic Institutions:
The Role of National Human Rights
Institutions in Good Governance and
Human Rights Protection
Linda C. Reif'
INTRODUCTION
The enterprise of building or strengthening democratic institutions in so-
cieties emerging from civil conflict or non-democratic regimes can be im-
mense, complex, and time-consuming. Each nation faced with such a task
must address matters such as the redesign of state governance structures, law
reform in many sectors and the strengthening of civil society. Although the
state itself bears the prime responsibility in undertaking such an enterprise
and the sovereign right to decide on the models and methods, it may be as-
sisted by multilateral international organizations and bilateral donors.
The areas where rebuilding of democratic institutions can occur is broad
indeed. Democratic governance structures, including the legislative, execu-
tive/administrative, and judicial branches, can be reformed. The rule of law
can be strengthened. Human rights protection can be improved. Civil soci-
ety groups can be fostered and a free press supported. A free market eco-
nomic system can be developed and subjected to appropriate state regulation
to prevent unfairness and obtain an appropriate level of tax revenue to sup-
port important state functions. The concept of good governance has devel-
oped in the practice of relevant international organizations and some donor
governments as a guide for rebuilding or reforming governance structures.
State institutions that act as oversight mechanisms to prevent improper state
action and improve governance can also be established in the pursuit of good
governance. These institutions include state auditors, electoral commissions,
* Faculty of Law, University of Alberta; Editor, International Ombudsman Institute. I am grateful to
the University of Alberta EFF Support for the Advancement of Scholarship Small Faculties Fund for
financial assistance to support the research for this Article and to present an earlier version of the paper at
the 1999 Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS) Annual Meeting, United Nations
Headquarters, New York City. I would also like to thank Barbara von Tigerstrom, Emeka Duruigbo, and
Remigius Chibueze for their research assistance. The views expressed in this Article are my own.

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