Good governance

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Good Governance (ger .: Good governance refers to) one from the perspective of creditors in the industrialized countries good control and regulation system of a socio-political unit such as a state or a municipality . Good governance was defined by the World Bank in 1992 in “Governance and Development”: “the manner in which power is exercised in the management of a country's economic and social resources for development” and is based on the conditionalities of the 1990s in structural adjustment programs received criticism .

Concept and conceptual history

While the term “governance” arose as early as the 15th century and is now a term used in general technical terminology in historical and political science, the concept of good governance emerged at the end of the 1980s at the World Bank and was used by international development cooperation organizations such as UNDP (the United Nations Development Program ) and OECD as a positive reversal of the negative experience. It was a (at least rhetorical) reaction to the negative consequences of the structural adjustment programs of the IMF and World Bank.

This led to the conclusion that there were no functioning institutions , principles and structures , the entirety of which was referred to as “governance” - and as “good governance” if it worked particularly well. There is no uniform definition of good governance even within the individual organizations. However, the principles of good governance generally include: administrative transparency , efficiency , participation , accountability , market economy , rule of law and justice . Democracy is often not mentioned explicitly, but it is based on the normative concept of good governance and can be found above all in the areas of transparency and participation.

Good governance is therefore more of a collection of methods and instruments that prefer normative control principles and forms. This provides a reference system - especially in connection with issues of political leadership in developing countries - on the basis of which the quality of political leadership and control can be assessed. Recently, the term “good governance” has also been received and discussed in the context of administrative ethics concepts .


  • In December 1993, the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the OECD approved the "Orientations for Participatory Development and Good Governance". In doing so, the western donor countries are underlining the great importance they attach to good governance, respect for human rights and democratization for sustainable development progress. At the same time, it shows their will to increasingly combine the granting of development policy benefits with political reforms in the direction of democracy and human rights, i.e. to practice political conditionalization of development cooperation.
  • The ACP-EC Partnership Agreement of Cotonou / Benin / Africa (2000) defines “good governance” in Article 9 (3) as follows: “In a political and institutional environment in which human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law are respected , Good governance is the transparent and responsible management of human, natural, economic and financial resources and their commitment to balanced and sustainable development. It includes clear decision-making procedures for authorities, transparent and responsible institutions, the primacy of the law in the administration and distribution of resources and qualification for the development and implementation of measures, in particular to prevent and combat corruption. "
  • For heavily indebted developing countries (HIPC), which are to benefit from debt relief within the framework of the HIPC initiative of the G8 countries, good governance plays a decisive role in their classification.
  • The African Union uses the African Peer Review Mechanism program to evaluate each other's quality of government action.
  • In 2006 the World Bank published the “Country Policy and Institutional Assessment” index. This index lists 20 indicators of governance and economic policy on a six-point scale. It now contains specific data over a long period of time and enables comparisons between the governance of the various countries.
  • The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime identifies good governance as one of the most important factors in reducing crime .

Legal character

The term “good governance” or “good governance” when it was drawn up by the institutions of donor countries was legally a one-sided and therefore non-binding “political conditionality”. When this conditionality was included in individual, specific contracts with certain recipient countries of development aid, “good governance” became a bilaterally binding contractual clause or condition. As a result of the anchoring in countless bilateral and multilateral agreements under international law (e.g. the ACP-EC partnership agreement with 92 different states cited above), the principle has acquired the legal character of a general legal principle of customary international law.

Since 1996 the principle can be based on a mandate of the UN General Assembly (Resolution 50/225), which expressly u. a. calls for strengthening government capacity for policies and for restructuring public administration. Insofar as the bilateral and multilateral development aid agreements mentioned have been ratified by the parliaments of the contracting donor and recipient countries, these agreements and thus the legal principle of “good governance” have also become the binding legal principle of the internal national law of the ratifying states.

It is still unclear whether the individual citizen or a civil society group or organization of the ratifying state can demand the fulfillment of “good governance” in the sense of a civil or human right from their state in a specific political field (third party effect).

Language history

The term “governance” alone is generally more factually descriptive, i. H. of a value-neutral nature. It refers to historical and contemporary, changed and constantly changing control mechanisms in the areas of state, market and citizen solidarity. “Good” governance, on the other hand, is a normative, value-prescribing ideal, that is, a goal to be striven for in these areas. In English, "governance" is an old term used in general political language to describe, assess and compare the manner in which state government acts. Linguistically, it was always in competition with “government”, which can mean “to rule” (in the sense of a substantiated verb, also: the governing) and “the government” (in the sense of the institution). “Governance” seems to have been used less and less and viewed as out of date in the 20th century.

From 1976, “governance” in the US-American business jargon in the compound term “corporate governance” with the new normative meaning of responsible corporate management was revived and received not only in English but worldwide, also in German business jargon and been spread. A decade later, in 1989, the World Bank in the USA introduced "governance" in the new composition of "good governance" with the new, also normative meaning of good governance in the technical language of international development policy , cooperation and aid and thus one of the most widespread terms of today's world language. Chronologically and in terms of content, it is obvious that “good governance ” has grown out of the spread of “ corporate governance ”.

In the meantime, “governance” alone has broken away from these parallel and dual technical-normative terms and has returned to the general terminology of historians and political scientists as an independent, much-used descriptive term. “Corporate governance” and “good governance” are today to be classified as foreign words in the German language due to their mass usage.

In 2007, the new fundamental right to “good administration” was codified in Article 41 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union , which came into force on December 1, 2009. Since "good administration" is an integral part of "good governance", the constitutionally prescribed requirements for "good administration" are also binding legal definitions of "good governance", including the provision that matters of state organs and institutions and other bodies "to be treated impartially, fairly and within a reasonable period of time" (Art. 41, Paragraph 1; right to be heard, to access files, reasons, official liability, Paragraph 3; official languages, Paragraph 4).

The term “right to good administration” also appears to be based on the development of the terms “corporate” and “good governance” in terms of content and language.

See also


  • Paul Collier: The bottom billion. Why the poorest countries fail and what can be done about it . CH Beck, Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-406-57223-4 .
  • Rudolf Dolzer , Matthias Herdegen , Bernhard Vogel (eds.): Good governance. Good governance in the 21st century. Edited on behalf of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. Herder, Freiburg i. Br. 2007, ISBN 978-3-451-29736-6 ( online version ).
  • Anita Ernstorfer / Albrecht Stockmayer (Ed.): Capacity Development for Good Governance . 2009, ISBN 978-3-8329-2871-1 .
  • Gerhard Altmann: The Good Governance Concept of the World Bank, IMF and OECD . In: Society, Economy, Politics 54 (2005).
  • Uwe Holtz: Development Policy Glossary. Keywords for development and one world politics , Bonn 2009 ( PDF ).
  • Good governance: success and failure . Issue of International Politics , ISSN  0014-2476 , 57 (2002), August 2002.
  • Governance and Good Governance . Special issue from Trames , ISSN  1406-0922 , Vol. 8, No. 4 (winter 2004). - Table of contents
  • Klaus König / Markus Adam (ed.): Governance as a development policy approach. Speyer 2001, ISBN 3-932112-57-1 .
  • Klaus König, Markus Adam, Benedikt Speer, Christian Theobald (Eds.): Governance as a development and transformation policy concept. Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2002, ISBN 3-428-10822-1 .
  • Evan Osborne: Measuring bad governance. In: The Cato Journal , Vol. 23, No. 3, 2004, ISSN  0273-3072 , pp. 403-422 ( PDF ).
  • Peter Thiery: Corrupt Regimes. Strategies to combat bad governance. In: Internationale Politik 57 (2002), 8th edition, ISSN  0014-2476 , pp. 27–32.
  • Heribert Weiland / Ingrid Wehr / Matthias Seifert (eds.): Good governance in the dead end? Series: Development Theory and Development Policy, Vol. 5, 2009, ISBN 978-3-8329-4292-2 .
  • Aram Ziai : Between Global Governance and Post-Development. Development policy from a discourse analysis perspective. Münster 2006, ISBN 3-89691-592-4 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. "As with the populist tone of the earlier discussion about the beneficial nature of the [structural] adjustment program for the rural poor in Africa, the [World] Bank adopted a populist language in making its case for 'good' governance on the continent . " (Peter Gibbon, Adebayo O. Olukosh: Structural Adjustment and Socio-economic Change in Sub-Saharan Africa . Motala 1996, p. 67).
  2. ^ "However, in practice the earlier structural adjustment conditionality did not disappear (fiscal and monetary stabilization policies, structural reforms) ..." (Geske Dijkstra: Supranational Governance and the Challenge of Democracy. In: Governance and the Democratic Deficit. Assessing the Democratic Legitimacy of Governance Practices [Eds. Bekkers, Dijkstra, Edwards, Fenger]. New York 2016, p. 285).
  3. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime: Global Study on Homicide 2019 (Vienna, 2019), Homicide trends, patterns and criminal justice response / Booklet 2. pp. 17, 38 , accessed on August 11, 2019 (English).
  4. ^ Sir John Fortescue: The governance of England, London 1470