- 2014 - GAG
Our Commonwealth approach has always been to see democracy and development as mutually supporting and reinforcing. It is therefore natural that we should seek to bring a binocular depth of focus to infrastructure development and public service delivery by looking at them through the lenses of both governance and growth.
The Commonwealth Charter reminds us that good governance helps to ‘ensure transparency and accountability’, and that
‘sustainable economic growth and development and the rule of law are essential to the progress and prosperity of all’.
Building resilience in member states is a Commonwealth priority and brand strength, and diversification plays a crucial part in reducing vulnerability. Broadening sources of funding for capital and infrastructure projects, and for public service delivery, is an important element in reducing dependence on too narrow a base of financial support.
Contributors to this publication draw on an immensely wide range of knowledge and experience. Making such analysis and expertise more widely available, within and beyond our membership, is part of the global wisdom function of the Commonwealth. It is our hope that many will profit from the specialist knowledge and insights shared within these pages, to the advancement of social welfare and for the economic benefit of communities in many parts of the world.
On Commonwealth Day 2013 the Commonwealth Charter was signed by the Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, at our headquarters in Marlborough House. In developing it, consultation took place throughout the Commonwealth, among the public, among civil society and among elected representatives. It is most appropriate therefore that its opening words are: ‘We the people of the Commonwealth’.
Under the heading ‘Good Governance’, Article 8 of the charter states: ‘We reiterate our commitment to promote good governance through the rule of law, to ensure transparency and accountability and to root out, both at national and international levels, systemic and systematic corruption.’
The studies and articles in this handbook give examples of how the governments and people of our member countries are making good that promise. They set our collective Commonwealth priorities of democracy, development and respect for diversity firmly within the context of governance.
It is by combining vision with examples of good practice and supporting one another with practical action that Commonwealth governments and public institutions raise standards and delivery of services to the expectations of our citizens.
Our goal is to build national resilience where progress and growth lead to stable, inclusive and harmonious societies.
This is advanced through fairness and transparency in a responsive public administration, with the rule of law upheld with integrity by officials and political leaders, together with accountability through broad participation in democratic processes and a vibrant civil society.
This handbook draws attention to examples of how current concerns can be addressed and new opportunities opened up: for the well-being of our citizens; for the welfare of the global community; and for the stewardship of finite natural resources. It is to be warmly welcomed.
Efficient, accountable, effective and transparent public administration is key to advancing our core Commonwealth values of democracy and development. It plays a pivotal role in strengthening democracy by building trust in government and provides the foundation for progress towards achieving internationally agreed goals for development.
Political will to create a competent professional and nonpartisan public service to implement the vision of the political leadership determines progress on both democracy and development.
Thus effective and ethical public administration, demonstrating the essential characteristics of leadership, administrative skill and technical expertise, is vital to establishing and maintaining robust democracy and sustainable development. It achieves this and strengthens the democratic legitimacy of government by impartially creating and co-ordinating policy in accordance with agreed national priorities, appropriately allocating resources, and working effectively in association with private sector and civil society partners to deliver public services.
Good governance, adherence to which is a vital factor in attaining national development objectives, is defined by the Commonwealth as the combination of the values of democracy, rule of law, human rights and just and honest government. This final element – just and honest government – arises when fair and effective public institutions enjoying broad popular support and operating within an effective state are subject both to the rule of law and the benefit of a strong civil society.
Strengthening public administration is an area in which the Commonwealth, with its shared traditions in this field, has achieved much and continues to have much to offer. Public sector development is promoted in the Commonwealth by the Governance and Institutional Division of the Commonwealth Secretariat, and by key partner organisations and professional and administrative networks such as the Commonwealth Local Government Forum and the Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management.
I commend this handbook as a tool for advancing still further collective Commonwealth efforts to promote good governance and joint practical action as we seek to bring the benefits of just and honest government to all our citizens.