Solutions to Bad Governance

12.26.2005

Jeffrey Sachs talks about good governance in this op-ed that appeared in The Korea Herald. Elections, he argues, although important, are not enough to limit the abuse of power and hold governments accountable for their actions – a host of other mechanisms need to be put in place to improve governance. He also talks about the governance trap – poverty causes bad governance and bad governance causes poverty. His solution? Strengthen civil society organizations.

The implications for action are clear. By strengthening civil society – through legal rights and long-term economic development – and instituting clear rules to ensure accountability, political despotism and corruption will be brought under control. We should be uncompromising, therefore, in our defense of civil liberties.

The rich world should offer impoverished regions like sub-Saharan Africa more economic support to break out of poverty. Of course, aid should be directed to specific needs – for example, malaria control, food production, safe drinking water, and sanitation – whose fulfillment can be measured and monitored to resist corruption. By raising living standards, we would also be empowering both civil society and impoverished governments to defend the rule of law.

CIPE’s partner Jesus Estanislao of the Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA) also takes a very interesting look at good governance. ISA works to build a civil society understanding of good governance – their program stresses that it is not enough to simply demand good governance, citizens must participate and do their part. Dr. Estanislao’s presentation can be viewed here (video) and his article on strengthening governance in the Philippines is available here.