I am invited to submit a proposal for a paper to participate in a conference with the title "Ethics and Quality of Governance". The conference will be held on 14 March 2013 in New Orleans, USA. This is a tough assignment. How does one explain the obvious?
Ethics is: "Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct. The term comes from the Greek word ethos, which means "character". "
Governance is: to steer.
The relationship between the two reminds me of President Lincoln's Gettysburg address: government of the people, by the people, for the people.
There are ethical standards involved. Some are codified. There are scholars who state that codification leads to compliance and so externalization of moral. Those involved show the behavior not out of their conviction but because it is the law. But there is no other alternative.
Good governance requires and depends upon a comprehensive set of values and norms or principles. According to the United Nations (UN), good governance has the following seven characteristics or values:
1. Participation:the degree of involvement of all stakeholders;
2. Decency: the degree to which the formation and stewardship of the rules is undertaken without harming or causing grievance to people;
3. Transparency:the degree of clarity and openness with which decisions are made;
4. Accountability:the extent to which political actors are responsible to society for what they say and do;
5. Fairness: the degree to which rules apply equally to everyone in society; and
Efficiency: the extent to which limited human and financial resources are applied without waste, delay or corruption or without prejudicing future generations (United Nations, 2008).
The argument presented here is that there must be a balance between transparency and confidentiality for good governance to flourish.