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Good Governance and Confidentiality; Preservation of the Public Sphere

Governance is not synonymous with government.  Governance refers to decisions that define expectations, grant power, and verify performance. Governance means to steer. The definition used by the United Nation is: the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented)[1]. Governance determines who has power, who makes decisions, how other players make theirvoice heard and how account is rendered[2].  Good governance is also related to the concept of check-and-balances. Good governance refers to govern according to certain values and principles. In general we govern three areas: the public domain, the market domain and the domain between the two, the NGOs. Corporate governance refers to governance of the profit organizations domain. 

Good governance is a comprehensive set of values and norms or principles. According to the United Nations, good governance has seven characteristics or values:

(a) Participation: the degree of involvement of all stakeholders;

(b) Decency: the degree to which the formation and stewardship of the rules is undertaken without harming or causing grievance to people;

(c) Transparency: the degree of clarity and openness with which decisions are made;

(d) Accountability: the extent to which political actors are responsible to society for what they say and do;

(e) Fairness: the degree to which rules apply equally to everyone in society; and

(f) Efficiency: the extent towhich limited human and financial resources are applied without waste, delay or corruption or without prejudicing future generations (United Nations, 2008).

Confidentiality is not mentioned as a value, norm of principle related to good governance. This topic confidentiality and good governance in this article will be discussed from a political science and philosophical perspective. This topic up to  April 2011 had no relevance in the Caribbean. This topic gained momentum in Curaçao in May 2011 when private information of the President of the Central Bank was exposed by the Prime Minister during a press conference, leading to much tension in the young country of Curaçao and the menace of intervention by the government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. After this several confidential documents leaked, including a internal memorandum of the local agency of homeland security.

In June 2011 the government of Alaska publishes the emails of former state governor Sarah Palin. The question is if this does not violate the privacy of the governor.

In July 2011 Rupert Murdoch closed the newspaper News of the World after systematic hacking of phones by journalist and so invading the privacy of citizens was revealed[3].

Research question

Often good governance is associated with the values of transparency or accountability and confidentiality or privacy is not pointed out. But can there be good governance without confidentiality and privacy? My argument is that there must be a balance between transparency and confidentiality for good governance to prosper.

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