POST TIME: 24 August, 2019 00:00 00 AM
Role of civil society in establishing good governance
Impartial enforcement of laws requires an independent judiciary and an impartial and incorruptible police force

Role of civil society in establishing good governance

Recently the terms ‘governance’ and ‘good governance’ are being increasingly used in development literature. Bad governance is being increasingly regarded as one of the root causes of all evil within our societies. Major donors and international financial institutions are increasingly basing their aid and loans on the condition that reforms that ensure ‘good governance’ is undertaken. In international development, good governance is a subjective term that describes how public institutions conduct public affairs and manage public resources in a preferred way.

Governance is the action of governing, the state organ or institution. Simply, governance means the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented). Governance is commonly defined as the exercise of power and authority by political leader, for the wellbeing of their country, citizen or subjects. Good governance has eight major characteristics. It is participatory, consensus-oriented, accountable, transparent, responsive, effective and efficient, equitable and inclusive and follows the rule of law. Participation needs because information and organization. This means freedom of association and expression on the one hand and an organized civil society on the other hand.

Rule of law: Good governance requires fair legal frameworks that are enforced impartially. It also requires full protection of human rights, particularly those of minorities. Impartial enforcement of laws requires an independent judiciary and an impartial and incorruptible police force.

Transparency: Transparency means that decisions are taken and their enforcement is done in a manner that follows rules and regulations. It also means that information is freely available and directly accessible to those who will be affected by such decisions and their enforcement. Responsiveness good governance requires that institutions and processes try to serve all stakeholders within a reasonable timeframe.

Consensus oriented: There are several actors and as many viewpoints in a given society. Good governance requires mediation of the different interests in society to reach a broad consensus in society on what is in the best interest of the whole community and how this can be achieved. It also requires a broad and long-term perspective on what is needed for sustainable human development and how to achieve the goals of such development. This can only result from an understanding of the historical, cultural and social contexts of a given society or community.

Equity and inclusiveness: A society’s wellbeing depends on ensuring that all its members feel that they have a stake in it and do not feel excluded from the mainstream of society. This requires all groups, but particularly the most vulnerable, have opportunities to improve or maintain their wellbeing.

Effectiveness and efficiency: Good governance means that processes and institutions produce results that meet the needs of society while making the best use of resources at their disposal. The concept of efficiency in the context of good governance also covers the sustainable use of natural resources and the protection of the environment.

Accountability: Accountability is a key requirement of good governance, not only governmental institutions but also the private sector and civil society organizations must be accountable to the public and to their institutional stakeholders. Who is accountable to who varies depending on whether decisions or actions taken are internal or external to an organization or institution. In general, an organization or an institution is accountable to those who will be affected by its decisions

Civil society is interaction between the household and the state which is manifested in the norms of community cooperative. It is composed of autonomous associations which develop a dense, diverse and pluralistic network. Civil society will consist of range of local groups. Civil society in Bangladesh has been playing a fundamental role in strengthening governance in following ways.

Voice of accountability: It is a key obligating of good governance. It depends on the transparency and the rule of law. Accountability provides better service and prevents corruption in governmental, private sector and civil society organizations. Civil society makes the mass people aware about the policies and programmes undertaken by the government. Political stability and absence of violence: Civil society plays an important role for establishing the democratic governance in a country through political stability and absence of violence.

Governmental effectiveness: Civil society also plays an important role in raising the standard of living of the mass people in Bangladesh through undertaken education, health, income generating programmes. In our country, Grammen, BRAC, ASA, etc have playing this role.

Rule of law: Good governance depends on the rule of law of a country. BLAST, TIB, SUJAN and others human rights based organization has been working for establish the rule of law in the country since long time.

Control of corruption: Civil society has been playing a vital role in minimizing corruption in the country by making people aware about the corruption and its immediate adverse impacts on economy and politics. TIB has been working to strengthen a participatory social movement to raise and strengthen voice against corruption.

The civil societies should bring together to establishing good governance. Civil society can also play a more hands-on role in promoting integrity in public service delivery, particularly where SDGs work involves large-scale provision of basic services such as health, education and water.

Civil society has a significant role to play in reducing leakages to good governance at the various levels of public service delivery. Civil societies have moral obligation to establish good governance in our society. But tragedy is that, during legacy of military regime, civil society was made inactive after the killing of father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Now Sheikh Hasina is leading present Bangladesh, and Bangladesh’s civil society has been working freely for national dialogue, media talk show, conducting independent research on issues national and regional interest governance and public policy reforms promoting economic growth and development, legal aid, sustainable environment, equity for establishing democratic governance in the country.

The writer is a researcher, Faculty of Social Science, University of Dhaka.

E-mail: bibmevaluation@bibm.org.bd