United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) initiated a project on “Ethnic Structure, Inequality and Governance of the Public Sector” in January 2002. It examines the complex ways ethnic cleavages and inequalities influence behaviour and institutions for governing the public sectors of multi-ethnic societies. It has been found that inequalities between groups constitute a more potent source of violent conflict than inequalities among individuals. Yet not much has been invested on research that aids understanding of the nature and dynamics of ethnic cleavages and inequalities. The focus has tended to be on conflict resolution than on conflict prevention or the management of diversity and inequality.
The conference provided a forum for scholars, policy-makers, development practitioners and civil society groups to discuss the project’s research findings on ethnicity and governance, and their policy implications. It should also have provided an opportunity to place the issues of ethnic diversity and inequality on the agendas of development agencies and governments. Various UN institutions, bilateral agencies, foundations, NGOs and scholars concerned with problems of cohesion, conflict and governance were invited. Policy makers from developing and transition countries in which research on these issues has been conducted were invited too.
International experts presented papers on:
- Inequality and Public Sector Governance in Unipolar Settings: Botswana, Lithuania and Spain; Speakers: Onalenna Selolwane, Natalija Kasatkina
- Inequality and Public Sector Governance in Bipolar Settings: Fiji and Trinidad and Tobago; Speakers: Jonathan Fraenkel and Ralph Premdas
- Inequality and Public Sector Governance in Bipolar settings: Latvia and Belgium;
Speakers: Artis Pabriks and Kris Deschouwer
- Inequality and Governance of the Public Sector in Tripolar Settings: Bosnia and Switzerland; Speakers: Florian Bieber and Wolf Linder
- Inequality and Governance of the Public Sector in Tripolar Settings: Nigeria and Malaysia; Speakers: Abdul Raufu Mustapha and Khoo Boo Teik
- Inequality and Public Sector Governance in Concentrated Multipolar Settings: Ghana and Kenya; Speakers: Richard Asante and Karuti Kanyinga
- Inequality and Public Sector Governance in Fragmented Multipolar Settings: India, Papua New Guinea and Tanzania; Speakers: Niraja Gopal Jayal, Ray Anere and Julius Nyangoro
- Ethnic inequalities and Development; Speaker: Frances Stewart
- Ethnic Inequalities in Latvia/Baltic Region; Speaker: Nils Muizniks