The Official British View.
I am told that all Overseas Territories Governors were given the following white paper at the OT Consultative Conference in
1. Although it is a phrase that has gained currency in recent years, the concept of governance has been with us as long as there have been systems within societies which determine the process of decision making; and the process by which decisions are, or are not, implemented. Good governance is simply doing this well.
2. Good governance is part of the partnership between the
3. This paper seeks to set out what is good governance. The best way to do this is to identify what are some of the most important elements. Perhaps the key element of good governance is the rule of law. Good governance requires legal frameworks that are enforced impartially. This means the full protection of human rights, and particularly those of people belonging to minorities. Impartial enforcement of laws requires an independent judiciary immune from any external influence; and a police force which treats all individuals equally, without fear or favour. It also requires a public service free from political interference in its appointments, discipline and dismissals, which implements policy in accordance with the rule of law and internationally accepted standards. This provides the certainty, and sense of security, which are both essential for economic prosperity and social stability.
4. This leads on to the second element, which is transparency. This means that decisions by both the executive and legislature should be taken (and be seen to be taken) and implemented in line with defined rules and regulations. It also means that (subject to limited exceptions) information must be freely available and directly accessible to those who will be affected by such decisions and their implementation. It also requires the provision of an appropriate level of information, in an easily understandable form, by government and the public service to the public, and media.
5. The third key area is accountability. Not only Government institutions and the legislature, but also the private sector and civil society organisations, must be accountable to the public and, where appropriate, to their institutional stakeholders. Each organisation or institution should also be accountable to those who will be affected by its decisions or actions. This means that institutions should be subject to checks and balances, including scrutiny by the legislatures, committees of legislators, and other appropriate bodies. This also involves a well-developed civil society, with strong independent media free from political interference; and representative NGOs to defend the rights of individual interest groups. Institutions should in general be accessible, and open to the public and the media, so that confidence can be built up within society that these organs are functioning properly and in the general interest.
6. Crucially, these three issues are interlinked. For accountability cannot be enforced without transparency and the rule of law.
7. A further key element is the responsiveness of institutions. Good governance requires that institutional processes should serve all stakeholders within a reasonable time frame. And they should do so according to defined and acceptable standards. Another guiding factor is equity and inclusiveness. It is important that all those in a society feel that they have a stake in it, and that they do not feel excluded from the mainstream of society, or access to Government and services. This requires all groups, but particularly the most vulnerable, to have the opportunity to maintain and/or improve their well being. But most importantly, it is about ensuring that there is equality of opportunity for all in society; and that services and benefits are made available on this basis, without either politicians or public servants giving preferential treatment because of family ties, friendship or political allegiance.
8. Another significant factor in good governance is effectiveness and efficiency. It is important that processes and institutions produce results that meet the needs of society, while making the best use of resources at their disposal. This is particularly relevant in ensuring the sustainable use of natural resources and the protection of the environment. Political decisions need to be taken with the long-term interests of society in mind, to ensure sustainability. And it involves ensuring sound financial management. Good governance may mean taking on entrenched interests, and judging how strongly to lead from the front. And finally, good governance means participation, including an organised civil society; and ways to ensure that the views of the most vulnerable are taken into consideration in decision-making.
9. Good governance is important, therefore, because it is the basic foundation for a successful, prosperous, well-ordered and sustainable society. It is about ensuring that the resources of a society are used to the best and most durable effect; and to the benefit of the greatest number of the population. These are aims to which both the
10. Achieving good governance poses a series of challenges for all involved. What has been described is a counsel of perfection. No country, including the