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good governance

Break it and see: norms of good governance and the wobbly protection of public opinion

Sina Odugbemi's picture

Events around the world (on this please see Freedom in the World 2017) are teaching us at least two astounding lessons. The first is that in liberal constitutional democracies good governance is far more dependent on norms, particularly constitutional conventions, than formal rules. This has serious implications. The second lesson is that when certain political actors choose to ignore the norms of good governance …and the details vary depending on the context…it is not at all clear that anything can stop them. Let’s take these two issues one by one.

Norms, conventions, formal rules

In his classic work, Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution the great English jurist, A.V. Dicey, introduced a distinction between what he called constitutional laws and the conventions of the constitution. Constitutional law, he pointed out, consists of rules that the courts will enforce. But there are other constitutional rules:

The other set of rules consist of conventions, understandings, habits, or practices which, though they may regulate the conduct of other officials, are not in reality laws at all since they are not enforced by the Courts. This proportion of constitutional law may, for the sake of distinction, be termed the ‘conventions of the constitution’, or constitutional morality.

Weekly wire: The global forum

Roxanne Bauer's picture

World of NewsThese are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.


Middle-Class Heroes: The Best Guarantee of Good Governance
Center for Global Development

The two economic developments that have garnered the most attention in recent years are the concentration of massive wealth in the richest one percent of the world’s population and the tremendous, growth-driven decline in extreme poverty in the developing world, especially in China. But just as important has been the emergence of large middle classes in developing countries around the planet. This phenomenon—the result of more than two decades of nearly continuous fast-paced global economic growth—has been good not only for economies but also for governance. After all, history suggests that a large and secure middle class is a solid foundation on which to build and sustain an effective, democratic state. Middle classes not only have the wherewithal to finance vital services such as roads and public education through taxes; they also demand regulations, the fair enforcement of contracts, and the rule of law more generally—public goods that create a level social and economic playing field on which all can prosper.

The State of Broadband: Broadband catalyzing sustainable development
Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development/UNESCO

The report finds that global broadband connectivity shows strong growth, with 300 million more people connected in 2016 than in 2015, putting the number of people online by the end of 2016 to 3.5 billion. However, more than half the world’s population (some 3.9 billion people) remains offline. The report highlights that offline populations, who are now found in more remote, rural areas, consist disproportionately of poorer, minority, less educated, and often female, members of society. The report traces the progress made towards achieving the Broadband Commission’s targets for broadband. Progress has been mixed.

Quote of the week: Barack Obama

Sina Odugbemi's picture

"Last point I’ll make is, on good governance, one of the best inoculators against terrorist infiltration is a society in which everybody feels as if they have a stake in the existing order, and they feel that their grievances can be resolved through political means rather than through violence."

Barack Obama, the 44th and current President of the United States, speaking August 6, 2014 at a Press Conference after U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit.

Weekly wire: The global forum

Roxanne Bauer's picture

World of NewsThese are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Transparency, Accountability, and Technology
Plan International
The recently launched Sustainable Development Goals have kicked off a renewed development agenda that features, among other things, a dedicated emphasis on peace, justice, and strong institutions. This emphasis, encapsulated in Goal #16, contains several sub-priorities, including reducing corruption; developing effective, accountable, and transparent institutions; ensuring inclusive, participatory, and representative decision-making; and ensuring access to information.  Indeed, the governance-related Goals merely stamp an official imprimatur on what have now become key buzzwords in development. Naturally, where there are buzzwords, there are “tools.” In many cases, those “tools” turn out to be information and communications technologies, and the data flows they facilitate. It’s no wonder, then, that technology has been embraced by the development community as a crucial component of the global accountability and transparency “toolkit.”

Freedom in the World 2016
Freedom House
The world was battered in 2015 by overlapping crises that fueled xenophobic sentiment in democratic countries, undermined the economies of states dependent on the sale of natural resources, and led authoritarian regimes to crack down harder on dissent. These unsettling developments contributed to the 10th consecutive year of decline in global freedom.

Weekly Wire: The Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.


Different Take on Africa
Good Governance vs. collective action

"It’s time for donors to get out of their addiction to Good Governance! No country has ever implemented the current donor-promoted Good Governance agenda before embarking on social and economic development. This was true for rich countries before they became rich, and it is true for the rapidly ‘catching up’ countries of Asia today. Countries in sub-Saharan Africa are no exception. They are therefore not helped to get out of poverty by donor insistence on prior achievement of Good Governance, meaning adoption of the institutional ‘best practices’ that emerged in much richer countries only at a later stage in their development. This is a main message of the Joint Statement of five research programmes, which has just been published. You may also like to see the PowerPoint presentation of the Joint Statement." READ MORE

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Freedom House
Freedom in the World 2012: The Arab Uprisings and Their Global Repercussions

"The political uprisings that have swept the Arab world over the past year represent the most significant challenge to authoritarian rule since the collapse of Soviet communism, according to Freedom in the World 2012, the latest edition of Freedom House’s annual global survey of political rights and civil liberties. Yet even as the Arab Spring triggered unprecedented progress in some countries, it also provoked a harsh and sometimes murderous reaction, with many leaders scrambling to suppress real or potential threats to their rule. The repercussions of this backlash have been felt across the Middle East, as well as in China, Eurasia, and Africa.

A total of 26 countries registered net declines in 2011, and only 12 showed overall improvement, marking the sixth consecutive year in which countries with declines outnumbered those with improvements. While the Middle East and North Africa experienced the most significant gains—concentrated largely in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya—it also suffered the most declines, with a list of worsening countries that includes Bahrain, Iran, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. Syria and Saudi Arabia, two countries at the forefront of the violent reaction to the Arab Spring, fell from already low positions to the survey’s worst-possible ratings." READ MORE

Morocco: When Governance, Transparency, Integrity, Accountability, & Public Procurement Entered the Constitution

Laurence Folliot Lalliot's picture

This post originally appeared on Voices & Views: Middle East & North Africa

Although many events from the Middle East and North Africa region have enjoyed large press coverage and headlines, one has remained, to date, a rather well-kept secret: the inclusion of governance and a dedicated provision on Public Procurement in the new Moroccan Constitution, adopted by referendum on July 1, 2011. In doing so, Morocco has joined the very small list of countries (i.e., South Africa and the Philippines) to grant a constitutional status to this rather technical field, the impact of which will be progressively felt in the world (even outside the small world of procurement lawyers), as it affects how government money is converted into goods and works like roads, schools, vaccines, etc.

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Space for Transparency
Latin American Elections: How to Use Social Media to Promote Transparency

“Several presidential, regional and municipal elections were held between October and November in Latin America: In Argentina, Cristina Kirchner won by an overwhelming majority; in Guatemala, for the first time after the dictatorship a former member of the military was elected; in Nicaragua, Ortega was re-elected amid accusations of irregularities; and in Colombia, voters endorsed the position of President Santos.

As part of these electoral processes, TI chapters have implemented various strategies based on the use of new technologies and social media to engage citizens and ensure fairness and greater transparency of campaigns and elections.In Argentina, Poder Ciudadano waged the campaign Quién te Banca (Who is supporting you?) to provide information to citizens on election campaign spending, such as how much funding is received by candidates, the origin of the funds, etc. Citizens were asked to send photos of election campaign posters via sms, Twitter or Facebook. Poder Ciudadano processed the data received and submitted requests for information regarding the origin and allocation of the funds.”  READ MORE

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Center for Global Development
Publishing Construction Contracts as a Tool for Efficiency and Good Governance

“Construction is a vital part of development, but it often falls prey to poor governance and corruption that misdirect funds, escalate costs, and delay projects. Making the details of construction contracts public is one proven way to help citizens get what they need and what they are paying for.

Publishing government contracts would provide a large stock of public intellectual capital which should reduce the legal costs of contracting and help spread the lessons from failed approaches. The approach is feasible: some jurisdictions have already introduced it.”  READ MORE

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

The Wall Street Journal
How To Calculate How Much The Bribe Was Worth

“In the murky world of international corruption, it’s frequently unclear who is paying who and how much they’re paying.

It’s even harder to figure out how much profit a businessman or a company may have derived from greasing the palms of a corrupt government official.

Despite this lack of clarity, ill-gotten gains are one of the primary metrics governments use to calculate penalties for bribe-payers — the thought being, proceeds can only be confiscated if they are calculated accurately.”  READ MORE

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