Good Governance and A Nation that Cares

Credits: / (C) ThinkTalk

Charity begins at home.

Sir Thomas Browne

So goes the popular saying. It’s hypocritical to be concerned about everyone else, while ignoring the ones closest to you such as a spouse, children, and/or immediate family.

Same is true for a nation. A nation (represented by its President and leaders in government) that cares for others but ignores its citizens or treat them as insignificant, deserves no respect. So also is a nation that is quick and first to render aids/assistance to other nations, but does or can not first render those aid/assistance at home and within its own borders.

It’s the season for caring

Not that the Christmas season ought to be the only time that we care about one another, or express love by gifting each other, but we acknowledge that it is the biggest time of year when it becomes particularly obvious to those who are without a family, or loved ones, how lonely life really is.

We acknowledge that caring should be an innate and daily part of our lives, but again, the season seems an appropriate time to remind us about caring whether as an individual or as a nation.

ThinkTalk published 10 tips on how we can care for one another. Today’s post is about nations caring (for its citizens).

Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community.

Anthony J. D’Angelo

A caring nation

A caring nation begins with its public officials; those who were either elected, appointed, or employed into a public office or position.

Being a public officer is about service; that is, the officer is in the office to be of service to all the citizens of the locality, state, or federal and includes police officers, firefighters, public health officials, librarians, teachers, etc. Public Officer is interchangeably used with “public servants?” Any wonder why? Because they are in office to SERVE the Public!

Effective public servants must have an enduring sense of duty that compels them to go the extra mile and to behave with integrity” and ethically.

. . .

The utmosts of anyone holding a public office, from the President or Prime Minister to the clerks in the government departments, should be the welfare of, and helping, the citizens. And any public officer not caring about its citizens should not be allowed to continue to remain in office! The uncaring demonstrates a lack of governance; let alone good governance.

What is Governance and Good Governance?


Governance should be first and foremost about the people.

The United Nations defines governance as “the structures and processes whereby a social organisation – from a family to corporate business to international institution – steers itself, ranging from centralised control to self-regulation.”

Governance refers to the way in which those with power exercise that power, formally and informally, and it describes how institutions work and how States relate to societies more broadly, rather than just through standard government bodies (Grindle, 2017).

Governance generally relates to institutions, power, order, justice and equity. In the public sector, governance also refers to the process of wielding power – in this case entailing the enactment and promulgation of effective public policies, procedures that are legitimate and accountable to the citizenry, and laws which directly affect human and institutional interaction, and economic and social development (Rose-Ackerman, 2016).

. . .

Governance is “often used interchangeably with the term “government“. Yet, while government is broadly defined as a set of institutions established by constitutions and laws, governance broadly refers to a behavioral relationship between governors and the governed.“ The two terms are closely knit.

Good Governance

In 1996, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) declared that “promoting good governance in all its aspects, including by ensuring the rule of law, improving the efficiency and accountability of the public sector and tackling corruption, [are] essential elements of a framework within which economies can prosper.”

Johnston (2002, p. 1-2) defines good governance as “legitimate, accountable, and effective ways of obtaining and using public power and resources in the pursuit of widely accepted social goals”. This definition links good governance with the rule of law, transparency and accountability, and embodies partnerships between state and society, and among citizens.

Similarly, Rose-Ackerman (2016, p. 1) suggests that good governance refers to “all kinds of institutional structures that promote both good substantive outcomes and public legitimacy.”

Good government is also associated with impartiality (Rothstein and Varraich, 2017), ethical universalism (Mungiu-Pippidi, 2015) and open-access orders (North, Wallis and Weingast, 2009).

The World Bank defines good governance in terms of the traditions and institutions by which authority in a country is exercised. This includes

  1. the process by which governments are selected, monitored and replaced;
  2. the capacity of the government to effectively formulate and implement sound policies; and
  3. the respect of citizens and the state for the institutions that govern economic and social interactions among them (Kaufmann, Kraay and Zoido-Lobatón, 1999).

Good governance is generally associated with political, economic and social goals that are deemed necessary for achieving development. Hence, good governance is the process whereby public institutions conduct public affairs and manage public resources in a manner that promotes the rule of law and the realization of human rights (civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights)”

Good governance is tightly linked to the fight against corruption.

Accordingly, some of the core principles of good governance are also principles of anti-corruption. The UNO’s (United Nations Organization) literature identifies good governance with political systems that are:

  • participatory;
  • consistent with the rule of law;
  • transparent;
  • responsive;
  • consensus-oriented;
  • equitable and inclusive;
  • effective and efficient; and
  • accountable (Rothstein and Teorell, 2008; UN, 2009).

According to the United Nations, “gradual global recognition of the need for good governance emerged only from the 1990s onwards,” almost twenty-five years later, many nations still lack good governance.

The term ‘Governance’ is broad and ‘good’ is subjective and debatable. Try as we can, it is impossible to exhaust both terms. The point however is to indicate what a caring nation is and does. We also provide below, courtesy of the Public Service Organization and the Harvard Business Review, a model for public service leadership.

Public Service Leadership Model

To learn more, click on the urls and it will direct you to the websites.

“Rather than wait for the system and the culture to change, leaders can begin to apply the model by focusing on applying these simple, yet powerful practices associated with each competency.”

How can a nation show that it cares about its citizens? By …

  1. Knowing the state of its citizens everywhere
  2. The President or Prime Minister empowering each State leaders to act in the best interests of its citizens
  3. Being responsive to the needs of your citizens everywhere; actively listening and responding
  4. Going beyond providing the basic amenities; health, roads, education, power and energy, food, etc
  5. Demonstrating accountability, integrity, and ethical dealings
  6. Being accessible to your citizens; open door policy where the citizens can voice concerns and/or suggestions. This could be via responsive social media

Please feel free to add to the list in the comments section.

. . .

True charity beginneth first at home,
Heere in your bosomes dwell your deere-lov’d hearts,
Feed them with joy; first crowne their appetites,
And then cast water on the care-scroch’d face,
Let your own longings first be satisfied,
All other pitty is but foolish pryde. – John Marston

Thanks for reading … please share your thoughts in the Comments.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s