Pooja Bhatoo: Evaluating Five Arguments of the Mauritius Youth Parliament Session 3

George provided an insight about how good governance prevails in the governmental system in his country, Japan. A country and its people needs laws, regulations and acts to influence its citizens’ codes of conduct positively. However, George explained that good governance can be practiced out of good faith and education of the population. People need to acknowledge and abide by the established rules, not because of fear of the system, but by holding on to their beliefs. In this way, showing trust to their own self brings as much trust and confidence into their judicial, governmental systems and civil society. However, as much as this argument is morally sound, it is debatable as to how can one rely only on their good faith so as not to indulge into actions going against the rules of law; since good faith, education and rules & regulations can be argued to be interlinked.

The Honorable Mr. Osman Mohammed, parliamentary member of the Opposition party explained about the practice of good governance in Mauritius. Owing to a well established welfare state and a good judiciary system where laws, acts and regulations have been catered for; Mr. Mohammed showed strong confidence in the Mauritian governmental system by quoting the Mo Ibrahim Index and Freedom Index. He also explained that the Mauritian government adheres to its rules of law supported by a strong judicial system, has in place independent bodies to promote accountability and good governance principles. There is no doubt that the democratic government literature for a fair bit of time emphasized the need to develop and instill independent and robust institutions. Mauritius did very well at that level and created a host of institutions whose independence and autonomy were constitutionally guaranteed. However, it is inevitable to ask how efficient and effective these institutions in discharging their duties and responsibilities are. It is high time that we move away from governance as a number crunching and institutional creating exercise to one which is about real accountability to citizen. After all, state legitimacy and good governance do not depend only on regular elections but a functioning of institutions which articulate well with citizen engagement.

The intervention of Mr. R. Appayah was very stimulating in the sense that it touched the core issues that are actually crippling the Mauritian institutions. Mauritius is far from being the picture perfect example as evidenced by the successive high profile corruption related events as well as the growing patronage and cronyism causing many of the Mauritian brains to mitigate to greener pastures; clearly pointing that the country is currently undergoing bad governance where corruption cases are coming to surface and there is a lack of effective rules of law to remedy the situation. Moreover, the fact that there is a deliberate collusion between politicians, certain public servants and a section of the business world; it is crowding out the population who often has to pay a heavy price for the corruptive practices or in-competences of a small clique. It is of paramount importance to find an answer as to how to change the rhetoric around transparency and accountability into meaningful and tangible actions.

5 December: International Volunteer Day

The International Volunteer Day (IVD) mandated by the UN General Assembly, is held each year on 5 December. It is viewed as a unique chance for volunteers and organisations to celebrate their efforts, to share their values, and to promote their work among their communities, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), United Nations agencies, government authorities and the private sector.

Apart from mobilising thousands of volunteers every year, the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme contributes to peace and development by advocating for the recognition of volunteers and working with partners to integrate volunteerism into development programming.

Through the Online Volunteering service, volunteers can take action for sustainable human development by supporting the activities of development organisations over the Internet. Every day thousands of people are volunteering, online or on-site, contributing to peace and development, working to achieve the MDGs and engaging people to shape the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.

With the theme ”The world is changing. Are you? Volunteer!”, IVD 2015 is challenging every one of us to be part of implementing the newly launched Global Goals, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

On December 5th, International Volunteer Day, we not only celebrate volunteerism in all its facets – but also pay special tribute to volunteers working to implement the new global goals. Through volunteerism the person can impact the sustainable development agenda by mobilising and engaging governments and communities. For IVD 2015, join volunteers in recognising the individuals who are engaged in volunteering their time, energies, and skills to change the world for a better future.

Background

International Volunteer Day is a chance for individual volunteers, communities and organizations to promote their contributions to development at the local, national and international levels. By combining UN support with a grassroots mandate, International Volunteer Day is a unique opportunity for people and volunteer-involving organizations to work with government agencies, non-profit institutions, community groups, academia and the private sector.

The International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly through Resolution A/RES/40/212 on 17 December 1985. Since then, governments, the UN system and civil society organisations have successfully joined volunteers around the world to celebrate the Day on 5 December.

A focus on partnership and development

Through the years, International Volunteer Day has been used strategically: many countries have focused on volunteers’ contributions to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, a set of time-bound targets to combat poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation and discrimination against women.

The organization of International Volunteer Day is generally the result of a partnership between the UN system, governments, volunteer-involving organizations and committed individuals. Representatives from the media or academia, foundations, the private sector, faith groups, and sports and recreational organisations are often involved too.

Resolutions

The General Assembly invited Governments to observe annually, on 5 December, an International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development (resolution 40/212 of 17 December 1985) and urged them to take measures to heighten awareness of the important contribution of volunteer service, thereby stimulating more people in all walks of life to offer their services as volunteers, both at home and abroad.

The United Nations General Assembly in its resolution 52/17 of 20 November 1997 proclaimed 2001 as the International Year of Volunteers (IYV) The year was conceived for the purpose of furthering the recognition of volunteers, facilitating their work creating a network of communication and promoting the benefits of voluntary service.

In 2001, the International Year of Volunteers, the General Assembly adopted a set of recommendations on ways in which Governments and the United Nations system could support volunteering and asked that they be given wide dissemination (resolution 56/38 of 5 December 2001).

On 18 December 2008 the General Assembly decided that on or around 5 December 2011, the International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development, two plenary meetings of the sixty-sixth session of the General Assembly should be devoted to follow-up to the International Year and the commemoration of its tenth anniversary (resolution 63/153).

The United Nations General Assembly, in its resolution 57/106 of 22 November 2002, called upon the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme to ensure that the potential of International Volunteer Day is fully realised.

– Source: United Nations

Sharfaa Muthy: How should a national NGO implement good governance at all levels of operation?

NGOs are accountable to their communities (stakeholders); good governance is the basic form of accountability; good governance has a formal structure, good governance involves the separation of governance and management, NGOs are mission-based organisations; NGOs promote the highest professional and ethical standards; NGOs exercise responsible resource management and mobilization; and NGOs are responsible to the communities they serve. The guidelines then provide practical advice on implementing these principles.

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are legally constituted corporations created by natural or legal people that operate independently from any form of government. The term originated from the United Nations, and normally refers to organizations that are not a part of a government and are not conventional for-profit businesses.

Good governance refers to government agencies’ conduct in implementing innovative policies and programmes to increase the quality of public service with the ultimate aim of increasing economic growth. This paper investigates good governance in Indonesia, with a focus on its implementation by regional / local government. There is no single and exhaustive definition of “good governance,” nor is there a delimitation of its scope, that commands universal acceptance. The term is used with great flexibility; this is an advantage, but also a source of some difficulty at the operational level66. Very often the term “good governance” is connected to the public affairs and way to manage public resources. Governance is a decision making process and their way of implementation. It’s not only about making “correct” decisions, but about the best possible process for making those decisions. In practice good governance is used in many sectors and areas of activities and to describe interactions between different groups of society.

Good governance and human rights are mutually reinforcing. Human rights principles provide a set of values to guide the work of governments and other political and social actors. They also provide a set of performance standards against which these actors can be held accountable. On the other hand, without good governance, human rights cannot be respected and protected in a sustainable manner. The implementation of human rights relies on a conducive and enabling environment. This includes appropriate legal frameworks and institutions as well as political, managerial and administrative processes responsible for responding to the rights and needs of the population.

A non-governmental organisation should help in implementing a good governance strategy as it brings many benefit to the society. People are more likely to have confidence in their local government if decisions are made in a transparent and accountable way. This helps people feel that local government will act in the community’s overall interest, regardless of differing opinions.
It also encourages local governments to remember that they are acting on behalf of their community and helps them to understand the importance of having open and ethical processes which adhere to the law and stand up to scrutiny. Elected members and council officers will feel better about their involvement in local government when good governance is practised.

Councillors will be more confident that they are across the issues, that they can trust the advice they are given, that their views will be respected even if everyone doesn’t agree with them, and that the council chamber is a safe place for debate and decision making.

Good governance creates an environment where elected members and council officers ask themselves ‘what is the right thing to do?’ when making decisions. The most significant contribution of councillors to the planning process is when they establish the strategic framework in which decisions get made. Their participation in the development and review of municipal strategic statements, local planning policy frameworks and local other policies allows them to shape the vision for the municipality and how it will look in the future.

While speaking of good governance we also refer to the matter of electing non corrupted people and avoid a corrupted society. While giving much importance to good governance. The NGO should be able to handle the different roles allocated.

Seechurn Sandya: How should a national NGO implement good governance at all levels of operation?

Non – Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are organizations that are neither a part of a government nor a conventional for-profit business. NGOs are set up by ordinary citizens and may be funded by governments, foundations, businesses, or private persons.  Good governance is very important in an NGO because the latter is accountable to the community.   Since they benefit directly or indirectly from public support, NGOs are expected to demonstrate a high degree of accountability to their surrounding community.  This community includes members, beneficiaries, donors, the government, and other stakeholders or constituencies. As such to good governance here becomes the steer that can guide NGOs towards social accountability.

The eight principles of good governance are : accountability, transparency, responsive,  equitable and inclusive, effective , efficient and participatory.  These eight principles are the base of good governance whereby any NGO who follow them shall not only perform better and at the same time be a better-managed organization but also get the trust of the different stakeholders.

According to the World Bank, Good governance has to have three aspects:

First, the form of political regime;

Second the process by which authority is exercised in the management of a country’s social and economic resources for development.

Third, the capacity of the government to design, formulate and implement policies and discharge functions.

Generally, all NGOs have a “basic document” as required by law, that is, the act of incorporation, statute, etc.  This document explicitly designs the name of the governing bodies, their roles and responsibilities within the organization.  It also states how an NGO function, i.e., the board and the distribution of decision making powers.  This is the governance structure of NGOs in Mauritius generally.  Now in order to bring in good governance, the whole structure has a crucial role to play.  Since the board members are the pillars of an NGO structure, they are the ones who are going to implement that aspect of good governance.

Firstly, we have a board which is the principle governing body and also takes decisions.  For a better governance the board members should proceed towards having collective decision making that will represent the interest of all stakeholders while still being focused on their mission.  In other words involve all the responsible parties in order to understand the needs of the organization.  These collective decision making processes have a practical benefit also.  The involvement of all members brings more breadth of perspective and depth thereby surpassing the abilities of a single leader.  This also brings up much transparency in the work and role of the board.

Secondly, when a board governs, it generally has staffs that manage.  The division of duties between board and staff often leaves a gap between them and affects the effectiveness of the whole process from decision making to implementing.  But for a better governance to be in action it is crucial that the board must involve and participate in the implementation task thus eliminating the gap that hinders the board from fully understanding the needs and requirements of the organization and thus become more responsive.  This also encourages all the parties involved to be more confident and the end result be better decision making.

Taking in account the impact that good governance, it is easy to understand that the latter is beneficial for all, be it the stakeholders, the society or the government.  Good governance can improve the transparency of NGOs, involve participation, be more responsive, responsible and be effective and efficient and have more social accountability.  This will generate trust of one and all.