relies on a conducive and enabling environment. This includes appropriate legal
frameworks and institutions as well as political, managerial and administrative
processes responsible for responding to the rights and needs of the population.
This publication defines good governance as the exercise of authority through
political and institutional processes that are transparent and accountable, and
encourage public participation. When it talks about human rights, it refers to the
standards set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and elaborated
in a number of international conventions that define the minimum standards to
ensure human dignity (see box).
It explores the links between good governance and human rights in four areas,
namely democratic institutions, the delivery of State services, the rule of law
and anti-corruption measures. It shows how a variety of social and institutional
actors, ranging from women’s and minority groups to the media, civil society and
State agencies, have carried out reforms in these four areas.
When led by human rights values, good governance reforms of democratic insti-
tutions create avenues for the public to participate in policymaking either through
formal institutions or informal consultations. They also establish mechanisms for
the inclusion of multiple social groups in decision-making processes, especially
locally. Finally, they may encourage civil society and local communities to for-
mulate and express their positions on issues of importance to them.
In the realm of delivering State services to the public, good governance reforms
advance human rights when they improve the State’s capacity to fulfil its respon-
sibility to provide public goods which are essential for the protection of a number
of human rights, such as the right to education, health and food. Reform ini-
tiatives may include mechanisms of accountability and transparency, culturally
sensitive policy tools to ensure that services are accessible and acceptable to all,
and paths for public participation in decision-making.
When it comes to the rule of law, human rights-sensitive good governance ini-
tiatives reform legislation and assist institutions ranging from penal systems to
courts and parliaments to better implement that legislation. Good governance
initiatives may include advocacy for legal reform, public awareness-raising on
the national and international legal framework, and capacity-building or reform
Finally, anti-corruption measures are also part of the good governance framework.
Although the links between corruption, anti-corruption measures and human
rights are not yet greatly explored, the anti-corruption movement is looking
to human rights to bolster its efforts. In fighting corruption, good governance
efforts rely on principles such as accountability, transparency and participation
to shape anti-corruption measures. Initiatives may include establishing institu-
tions such as anti-corruption commissions, creating mechanisms of information-
sharing, and monitoring Governments’ use of public funds and implementation