MCC is unique in that it makes large grant investments in growth and poverty reduction, but only in the best governed of the poorest countries. This means that MCC is selective in where it works and that support for democratic governance—including the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms—is built into the agency’s DNA. Moreover, a strong country-led model means these investments are designed in partnership with country governments to deliver for their people, to whom they are ultimately accountable. These principles are evident in:
- MCC’s approach to selecting country partners,
- MCC’s program development and implementation process, and
- the ongoing success of MCC partner countries.
Selecting Partner Countries Committed to Democratic Rights
MCC’s statute requires eligibility criteria that assess candidate country commitment to the principles of good governance, including the core principles of democratic governance. MCC uses a transparent, data-driven process to select partner countries that evaluates policy performance in a number of areas, as summarized on MCC’s country scorecards, which are comprised of twenty indicators developed by independent, third-party institutions. In the “Ruling Justly” category of the scorecard, MCC has indicators that explicitly measure a country’s commitment to democratic principles—Political Rights, Civil Liberties, and Freedom of Information as well as indicators that measure Rule of Law, Government Effectiveness, and Control of Corruption. Good performance in these areas is critical to passing MCC’s scorecard and receiving MCC assistance.
In addition to its requirement that countries must pass the Control of Corruption indicator and half of the 20 indicators in order to pass the scorecard overall, MCC has a “democratic rights” hurdle. Countries must pass either the Political Rights or the Civil Liberties indicator in addition to the other requirements to pass MCC’s scorecard. This requirement reflects the weight MCC places on political rights and civil liberties and sends a clear message to potential partner countries regarding the importance of democracy to good governance.
Deepening Democracy through Program Development and Implementation
MCC’s approach to reducing poverty—creating incentives for reform and respecting existing domestic actors and processes—contributes to the long-term deepening of existing democratic institutions.
A core principle of MCC’s approach to development is its country ownership model, whereby MCC partners with eligible country governments to design and implement programs that are aligned with a country’s own development priorities.
In doing so, MCC helps democratic governments deliver tangible results for their people, based on the needs and aspirations they have voiced to their governments.
MCC also requires transparency in how these programs are implemented to ensure citizen and civil society participation, and requires programs to adhere to domestic legal and constitutional requirements. Together, these aspects of MCC’s program implementation model reinforce democratic institutions and processes.
Ongoing Expectations of Democratic Governance
Throughout the life of an MCC partnership, countries are expected to maintain their commitment to the principles of democratic governance that underpin MCC’s statutory good governance eligibility criteria, as well as other policy areas captured on the MCC scorecard. Many MCC partner countries have undergone successful elections, transfers of power, and expansions of political or civil rights during the course of their partnership with MCC. However, if a country demonstrates a significant policy reversal, MCC may issue a warning, suspend, or terminate eligibility for assistance.