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UNDESA Policy Briefs

Working Group on Ethics in Governance

This working group does not exist any more.

Outline
 
The Working Group on Ethics in Governance, which was announced at the 12th NISPAcee conference in Vilnius, Lithuania, in May 2004, succeeded the Working Group on Preventing Corruption in Public Administration.
 
Background and justification
 
Administrative malpractice, such as corruption, abuse of power, and favoritism, are widespread in the public sector, including CEE countries. At the same time corruption and ethics have become important issues in the practice and theory of politics, public administration, law, economics and society. This has led to more awareness and knowledge of the ethical or moral dimension of politics and administration and the causes of and solutions for ethical dilemmas in administrative decision-making.

Although rules and regulations are required to address such malpractice, ethical approaches are needed as well.  Bottom-up initiatives must complement top-down activities. 

The Working Group on Ethics in Governance brought together academics and practitioners interested in the ethical dimension of administrative decision-making. The group's mission was to establish a long-term network aimed at stimulating research on public service charters in CEE countries and Balkans, including questions concerning principles and standards of discretional power, neutrality and legality, transparency and administrative responsiveness to the regime in office. The Working Group on Ethics in Governance had an important opportunity to take advantage of the momentum and fluidity in the transition countries, and perhaps even to exercise some leadership in the development and implementation of new directions in administrative ethics.

The Working Group had its meeting at the 2005 NISPAcee Annual Conference, in Moscow. The aim of the sessions was to present an overview of CEE experience on ethics in governance with relevance for the practice of CEE governance and government.
 
Therefore, the Working Group on Ethics in Governance had identified as its first priorities the distinction between the legal and the ethical, administrative decision making, the exercise of discretion, political-administrative relations, and civil servants and their external environment, including interest groups, citizens, and civil society in the CEE region.
 
Papers on the following four topics were invited.

1. National decision-making systems: what helps nations to improve their ethical decision-making process and to curb corruption?
2. What are rules to exercise the discretion powers?
3. What are national and organizational rules to prevent malpractices?
4. The role of NGO’s, media and civil society in preventing and detecting wrongdoing.
 
Conclusions from the meeting 2005:

The objectives.

During the course of the 2005 Conference in Moscow, the proposal to reformulate Working Group IX, was considered by those participating in the Working Group. The group was convened by Dr Patrycja Suwaj (Bialystok Business School) and Mr Howard Whitton (OECD SIGMA program).

 
 

The Working Group discussed possible foci for future work in the context of NISPAcee’s mandate, and agreed to recommend to the Secretariat that it be redesignated under the title"Integrity in Public Governance”. Those present also resolved to seek to extend the membership of the group, so as to build connections between reflective practitioners and engaged scholars in the Ethics/Integrity field, as a matter of priority.

 
 

The primary objective of the Group was to enrich the 2006 Conference program with significant theory and practice papers, and other presentations focused on any aspect of the field of Ethics/Integrityin Public Governance. Cross-disciplinary studies are to be encouraged. 

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