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Good Governance and Democracy

Dr. Taha Farie Ghaleb

الحكم الرشيد والديموقراطية.jpg

The concept of good governance is one of the concepts that have spread recently among the scientific community as well as local and international organizations.


In general, it is referred to in the context when referring to good management in communicating with the individuals and society on the one hand, and dealing with the phenomenon of cultural diversity on the other hand. It expresses an integration of private and public interest between the rulers and the ruled.


Good governance is based on the participation, control and accountability of the public authorities, and the management of the public utilities and human and natural resources in accordance with the provisions of the law, taking into account the rights of citizens and the public interest, in a manner free from abuse or corruption in the community.


The concept of good governance is a neutral concept that expresses the exercise of the political authority and its management of the affairs of society, including the economic and social aspects and the management of natural and human resources.


It thus means a broader concept than the government concept, because it includes the work of official state agencies and non-governmental institutions such as civil society organizations and the private sector.


The parameters of this concept are determined from the management and exercise of political, economic and social authorities at the central and decentralized level, to the mechanisms and institutions that participate directly or indirectly in the decision-making.


The World Bank defines the good governance as the traditions and institutions through which power in a country is exercised for the public interest. This definition includes:

  1. The political dimension: it is represented in the process of selecting, monitoring and replacing those in power.

  2. The economic dimension: It is represented in the government's ability to manage resources and implement sound policies effectively.

  3. The institutional dimension: It is represented in the respect of citizens and the state for the institutions that govern the economic and social interactions between them.


As for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), it defined good governance as the exercise of economic, political and administrative authority to manage state affairs at all levels. It includes the mechanisms, processes, and institutions through which citizens and groups express their interests, exercise their legal rights, fulfill their obligations, and attempt to resolve their differences through intermediation.

This definition is more comprehensive because it includes all political, administrative and economic aspects. Good governance is seen as the governance that enables people to live in freedom and stability on the one hand, and the participation of formal and informal institutions, mechanisms and rules in embodying welfare and public interests in the reality on the other hand.


The Arab Human Development Report (2002) defines good governance as: governance that promotes, supports and preserves the human well-being and is based on expanding human capabilities, choices, opportunities and economic, social and political freedoms, and seeks to fully represent all groups of the people, and is accountable to it to ensure the interests of all population’s members. This definition focused on the ultimate goal of good governance, emphasizing the full representation of the people in government, in order to achieve the general interests of all people’s categories.


As for the Center for the Study and Developing Countries, good governance defined that its essence is the management of state affairs, and it consists of mechanisms, processes, and institutions used by citizens, individually or collectively, to support their interests, express their concerns, fulfill their obligations, and settle their differences in order for these authoritarian mechanisms and institutions to be effective from the point of view of society. They should have the following mechanisms:

- Share

- Transparency

- Equality

- The rule of law

- Responding to the interests of all parties.

- Unanimous interest

- Accountability

- Strategic vision

- Efficiency and effectiveness

It is clear from these definitions that there is no big difference between good and democratic governance, because we cannot talk about the existence of good governance in the absence of democracy. In fact, the good governance is based on the democratic legitimacy, which both are based on two elements: complacency and acceptance of the election, and “achieved” through progress in two tracks. The first: the path to guaranteeing, regulating and institutionalizing rights and freedoms to enable their exercise, and the second: the path to achieving social justice by overcoming the scourge of poverty, unemployment and corruption. Accordingly, the road map for building good governance assumes that there is no good governance without democratic legitimacy.


Here, we find that there is a relation among good governance, democracy and human rights, an integrative relation, because the three concepts are the pillar of a democratic society, and the absence of any of them leads to losing the function of the others, because democracy is impossible without the rule of good governance and vice versa, which is based on a broader collective participation base of its citizens in full respect for their rights, and it seeks to meet the needs of the civil society within a framework of oversight and accountability, with the benefit of creating a positive participation mechanism between state and civil society institutions based on democratic foundations and respect for human rights.


This means that good governance achieves or leads to the achievement of democratic governance, which is based on participation, accountability and oversight. Democracy is the main indicator from the political point of view of the existence of good governance, and in this regard, democracy must be based on:

  1. Freedom to establish, join and form organizations, associations and parties.

  2. Ensuring freedom of expression for all the citizens without exception.

  3. The right to vote and participate in elections, and the right to run for election.

  4. Providing national public positions to the citizens according to specific qualifications and capabilities without discrimination.

  5. Ensuring freedom and transparency of the elections.


Good government is part of good governance because the work of governments is mainly focused on responding to the popular demands, and being accountable to the people. Since the rational government focuses on making the decision-making process at high levels of quality, and within the framework of political participation, and the democratic government involves completing the process of democratic representation that takes place through elections and political parties, and this makes democratic practice effective.


Good governance is participatory, transparent and accountable, effective and equitable, and it enhances the rule of law, and ensures that political, social and economic priorities are set on the basis of a broad consensus in society.  All this is accompanied by the development of civil society organizations - professional (trade unions), political (parties), scientific and cultuand various associations, and the establishment of the institution of the modern national state based on institutions and not on the personalization of the power and the individualization of governance.

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