Global Education

Teacher resources to encourage a global
perspective across the curriculum

Governance

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  • Reducing pollution and managing urban waste helps improve health in Haiphong, Vietnam.
  • This primary school in Vanimo, Papua New Guinea is provided with water by the government.
  • Citizens are informed about registering for and voting in elections in Indonesia.
  • Lagos is home to over 10 million people, making traffic a major problem but measures are being taken to improve it.
  • The giant flag mast on Parliament House Canberra, Australia.
  • Protesters with a banner that reads ‘Non-violence: national movement’ parade past Shwedagon pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar.
  • Dr Dora Akunyili was recognised for her work in fighting corruption with an Integrity Award from Transparency International.
  • Three women hidden behind election booths cast their secret vote.
  • The recruitment of women police in Papua New Guinea is helping to achieve a just, safe and secure society for all.
  • Linda Rau from Kila Kila Village Court, PNG, resolves disputes and builds understanding of issues, particularly those affecting women.
  • Citizens were educated about who can vote and how to vote.
  • Mock poll booths helped people understand the electoral process in the 2012 PNG general elections.
  • A polling centre official explains how to vote in the South Sudan referendum.
  • Australian Scholarship recipient Commissioner of Police Ioeru Tokantetaake in Kiribati.

Quick facts

  • International Day of Democracy, 15 September, focuses on the involvement of people in the public affairs of their countries to ensure basic freedoms and equality.
  • Good governance has eight major characteristics. It is participatory, transparent, responsive, consensus-oriented, equitable and inclusive, effective and efficient, accountable, and follows the rule of law.
  • Good governance assures corruption is minimised, views of minorities are taken into account and that the voices of the most vulnerable in society are heard in decision-making.
  • Transparency International found that one in four people worldwide paid a bribe to an institution or service in 2010.
  • United Nations Convention against Corruption highlights importance of prevention, international cooperation, addressing asset recovery and criminalises a wide range of acts of corruption.

Source

United Nations Convention against Corruption

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Introduction

What is governance?

The term ‘governance’ is used to describe the way in which a country is governed. It covers the range of political, economic and administrative decisions made by the government, business and civil society sectors as they manage a country’s resources and affairs.

What is good governance?

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) states that good governance is participatory, transparent, responsive, consensus-oriented, equitable and inclusive, effective and efficient, accountable, and follows the rule of law. Good governance assures that corruption is minimised, the views of minorities are taken into account and that the voices of the most vulnerable in society are heard in decision-making. It is also responsive to the present and future needs of society.

Good governance is essential for a country’s development as effective leadership drives the processes and institutions that deliver better services to the population, stimulates economic growth and ensures security and stability.

Democracy and good governance

Democracy is one of the universal core values and principles of the United Nations. Respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms, and the principle of holding periodic and genuine elections by universal suffrage are essential elements of democracy. Political rights and civil liberties that are essential for meaningful democracies are part of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which has been signed by 167 countries around the world.

Democracy supports good governance, yet there may be tensions among the various elements such as balancing participation and efficiency. Ensuring people’s voices are heard when addressing such challenges is part of good governance and in meeting the universal core value of democracy.

Human rights and good governance

There are close links between good governance and human rights. The characteristics of good governance guarantee civil, political, and socioeconomic human rights. Citizens are legally protected in relation to their property, personal security and liberty and are able to freely express views and influence the government for change without the fear of being arrested or discriminated against.

When people are able to fully participate in government decision-making and to advocate for their rights to education, housing, health and an adequate standard of living, it leads to a robust and responsive government that is less likely to be susceptible to corruption and instability.

Corruption and good governance

Corruption, the abuse of one’s official position for personal gain, undermines good governance. It is increasingly recognised as the greatest obstacle to achieving sustainable development. Corruption undermines citizens’ trust in public institutions and offices of government, eroding the values of democracy. It increases costs for companies to do business, and decreases the tax revenues for governments to provide essential public services such as education, health clinics and clean water.

Fighting corruption requires strong political will, an active civil society, a free press, freedom of information legislation and a strong, clean and independent judicial system. As well as a strong commitment from all levels of government and society, it takes time and resources to change behaviours and attitudes and for people in official positions to cease engaging in corrupt practices.

Responses

Australia’s response

Governance affects virtually all aspects of a country's prosperity. Australia's aid focuses on promoting stability, inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction, and in strengthening gender equality and women’s empowerment. It works with governments, civil society and the private sector in partner countries to:

  • support efforts to build a broad and well-balanced tax base
  • improve the transparency and accountability of extractives-related revenues
  • reform institutions to strengthen regulation and delivery of public services and deliver more representative and accountable government
  • build effective law and justice systems
  • contribute to peace-building initiatives in conflict-affected areas to address long-standing grievances and other drivers of conflict.

Source

Australian Aid, Governance 

International responses

World leaders at the UN Millennium Summit in 2000 resolved to ‘spare no effort to promote democracy and strengthen the rule of law, as well as respect for all internationally recognised human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to development’. The international community recognised that improving democratic institutions and processes, and managing the changing roles of the state and civil society in a globalised world must underpin efforts to reduce poverty, sustain the environment and promote human development. More than a decade on and efforts to improve governance are continuing.

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)

United Nations Development Programme

World Bank

Teaching activity

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Case studies

Confronting corruption in Nigeria

Dr Dora Akunyili was recognised for her work in fighting corruption with an Integrity Award from Transparency International.
Dr Dora Akunyili is a dedicated and strong woman is confronting corruption in the pharmaceutical industry in Nigeria.
Read more

Empowering women in Papua New Guinea

Linda Rau from Kila Kila Village Court, PNG, resolves disputes and builds understanding of issues, particularly those affecting women.
Training and awareness raising is leading to more women decision-makers in Village Courts and the National Parliament and helping improve the lives of women in general.
Read more

Maternal health in Nepal

A female health worker checks another woman's blood pressure.
A holistic and coordinated approach to maternal health in Nepal has drastically improved the lives of mothers and children.
Read more

Times of change in Afghanistan

An Afghan man in traditional dress collects a green leafy vegetable from an agricultural demonstration plot.
Afghanistan faces enormous cultural, political, security and economic challenges as foreign military withdraw and the future of aid is uncertain.
Read more

Resources

Global dimension

The Global Dimension website, funded by the education charity Think Global in the UK, provides access to teaching resources, case studies and background information. Resources can be searched by a number of criteria including learning area, topic, year level and price range. Access is through free registration and you can sign up for a quarterly newsletter.

http://globaldimension.org.uk

International Labour Organization

The International Labour Organization is the United Nations agency for overseeing international labour standards. It sees cooperatives as important providers of sustainable employment with the ability to improve the living and working conditions of employees.

http://www.ilo.org

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)

The OECD works to improve development policy and strengthen aid effectiveness for development agencies and partner countries. It provides policy advice on how donors can best support good governance, reduce corruption and protect human rights through their aid programs.

http://www.oecd.org/document/31/0,3746,en_2649_34565_46582751_1_1_1_1,00.html

Transparency International

Transparency International is a global civil society organisation which raises awareness of the damaging effects of corruption. It works with partners in government, business and civil society to develop and implement effective measures to tackle corruption. The website provides details about corruption by topic and country as well as its publication of the annual corruption perception index.

http://www.transparency.org

United Nations Development Programme

The United Nations Development Programme's (UNDP) work in democratic governance supports the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. The main focus areas of its programs are access to information and e-governance; access to justice and rule of law; anti-corruption; civic engagement; electoral systems and processes; human rights; local governance; parliamentary development; public administration; and women’s empowerment.

http://www.undp.org/governance

World Bank

The World Bank aims to fight poverty and improve the living standards of people in the developing world. It is a development bank that provides low-interest loans, interest-free credit, grants, policy advice, technical assistance and knowledge-sharing services to low- and middle-income countries. Its website includes a wealth of statistics and information on these issues.

http://www.worldbank.org

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Reducing pollution and managing urban waste helps improve health in Haiphong, Vietnam.
Photo by Alan Coulthart for AusAID
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Reducing pollution and managing urban waste helps improve health in Haiphong, Vietnam. Photo by Alan Coulthart for AusAID
This primary school in Vanimo, Papua New Guinea is provided with water by the government.
Photo by Jacqueline Smart Ferguson for AusAID
Print | Save
This primary school in Vanimo, Papua New Guinea is provided with water by the government. Photo by Jacqueline Smart Ferguson for AusAID
Citizens are informed about registering for and voting in elections in Indonesia.
Photo by Josh Estey for AusAID
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Citizens are informed about registering for and voting in elections in Indonesia. Photo by Josh Estey for AusAID
Lagos is home to over 10 million people, making traffic a major problem but measures are being taken to improve it.
Photo © Jane Hahn/Corbis
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Lagos is home to over 10 million people, making traffic a major problem but measures are being taken to improve it. Photo © Jane Hahn/Corbis
With its giant flag mast, Parliament House, home of the federal government, dominates Capitol Hill, Canberra, Australia.
This image is from Wikimedia, and is in the public domain.
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With its giant flag mast, Parliament House, home of the federal government, dominates Capitol Hill, Canberra, Australia. This image is from Wikimedia, and is in the public domain.
Protesters with a banner that reads ‘Non-violence: national movement’ parade past Shwedagon pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar.
Photo by Racoles/Wikimedia CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 licence
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Protesters with a banner that reads ‘Non-violence: national movement’ parade past Shwedagon pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar. Photo by Racoles/Wikimedia CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 licence
Dr Dora Akunyili was recognised for her work in fighting corruption with an Integrity Award from Transparency International.
Photo © Ed Kashi/Corbis
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Dr Dora Akunyili was recognised for her work in fighting corruption with an Integrity Award from Transparency International. Photo © Ed Kashi/Corbis
Under the constitution, women are allowed to vote, and 68 out of the 249 seats in parliament are reserved for women
Photo by The Asia Foundation
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Under the constitution, women are allowed to vote, and 68 out of the 249 seats in parliament are reserved for women Photo by The Asia Foundation
The recruitment of women police in Papua New Guinea is helping to achieve a just, safe and secure society for all.
Photo by Michael Wightman for AusAID
Print | Save
The recruitment of women police in Papua New Guinea is helping to achieve a just, safe and secure society for all. Photo by Michael Wightman for AusAID
Linda Rau from Kila Kila Village Court, PNG, resolves disputes and builds understanding of issues, particularly those affecting women.
Photo by DFAT
Print | Save
Linda Rau from Kila Kila Village Court, PNG, resolves disputes and builds understanding of issues, particularly those affecting women. Photo by DFAT
Citizens were educated about who can vote and how to vote.
Photo by AusAID
Print | Save
Citizens were educated about who can vote and how to vote. Photo by AusAID
Mock poll booths helped people understand the electoral process in the 2012 PNG general elections.
Photo by AusAID
Print | Save
Mock poll booths helped people understand the electoral process in the 2012 PNG general elections. Photo by AusAID
A polling centre official explains how to vote in the South Sudan referendum.
DFAT
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A polling centre official explains how to vote in the South Sudan referendum. DFAT
Australian Scholarship recipient Commissioner of Police Ioeru Tokantetaake in Kiribati.
Image by Lorrie Graham for DFAT
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Australian Scholarship recipient Commissioner of Police Ioeru Tokantetaake in Kiribati. Image by Lorrie Graham for DFAT