Latest News, MEIG Highlights 3 juin 2024

Highlight 21/2024 – Good Governance Through Empowered Effective Institutions

Jalil Vokhidov, 3 June 2024


The nexus between Good Governance and Sustainable Development Goals

The acknowledgement of “good governance” as critical importance for fostering development has been a subject of not only national but global discussion for decades. In fact, the key question of today is trying to find the proven elements of good governance. Ample proof has now been provided that the commitment to cultivating accountable, effective, and inclusive societies conducive to sustainable progress is at the heart of good governance. In addition, it is also important to highlight the core output and outcomes of good governance as potential enablers to overcome deep-seated holistic issues hindering countries to achieve sustainable development.

In 2015, all the member states of the United Nations (the UN) adopted the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The objective of these goals underscores the significance of guaranteeing equal access to justice and establishing institutions that operate efficiently, transparently, and responsibly across all levels. Moreover, the unanimous resolution adopted by the General Assembly of the UN emphasized the growing need to strengthen public institutions in support of sustainable development. On the other hand, there is a strong consensus around the role of independent institutions being complementary in promoting equitable development. This shows the horizontal relationship between effective institutions as central to enabling good governance and SDGs that can realistically be fulfilled by governments that succeed in building those institutions.

The impact of Effective Institutions in building Good Governance

Although, there is not the single secret ingredient to build instantly good governance within a state, the awareness about the necessity of effective institutions responsible to emerge it is nothing new. The OECD defined “effective institutions” as cross-cutting enablers for people to work together effectively and peacefully. Furthermore, emphasizing the role of strong institutions in boosting countries’ prospects for growth, it clearly divides them into two forms: formal and informal. The former one represents formal public institutions that are authorized with certain rights to exercise management processes within a government, whilst actively engaged civil societies (CS), and independent media are representatives of the latter.

The state conducts its public policy aiming to facilitate public goods to its citizens through public institutions. In this regard, the government is assumed to play a central role in any development processes, including good governance. But international practise of developing countries shows that the capacity of the government itself needs strengthening to be an effective enabler of development. Thereby, aside from other conceptual issues, mostly either a lack of government leadership or the capacity of technocrats are the main reasons hampering the establishment of inclusive political processes which engage other stakeholders including CS.

Why an inclusive community is important to foster good governance? The ultimate objective of any government – to address the needs of its people – can help to determine why inclusive policy formulation remains crucial. As noted above, the resolve in tackling good governance has implications for achieving SDGs. Both require strong, accountable institutions to be achieved. However, the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development – annual forum assessing the progress of SDGs – underlined the scarce acknowledgment of the role of national human rights institutions (NHRI) by governments. This shows that key players in holding government bodies accountable are still not on board. On the other hand, the high level discussions admit the substantial role of independent oversight institutions in delivering the rule of law and justice which are integral components of good governance. Such institutions, given the mandates to them, are inclined to hold the public authority accountable by demanding explanations of “why” certain policies are adopted and “how” they shall contribute to development of society.

Key takeaways

In view of the above, it can be summarised thus: good governance – comprising the effective institutions driven by citizen-centric policies shall refine the social contract between government and its citizens that creates long lasting results. Despite the need of other tools and resources, unlocking inclusion in policymaking is the key for socio-economic prosperity. Yet the high engagement of independent institutions like NHRI in decision making is limited, particularly in transition states, whether any attempt at increasing their role will be taken up and have the expected impacts on fostering bottom-up approach.

Jalil Vokhidov, Highlight 21/2024 – Good Governance Through Empowered Effective Institutions, 3 June 2024, available at

The views expressed in the MEIG Highlights are personal to the authors and neither reflect the positions of the MEIG Programme nor those of the University of Geneva.


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