‘Strategic Parliamentary Policies and Good Governance’ (Clingendael)

Course for Seniors of the National Assembly Service Commission – NASC
in Nigeria:

‘International Training on Strategic Parliamentary Policies, Politics and Management for Parliamentary Technocrats in Transition Countries’

NASC-website: http://nass.gov.ng/#


‘Strategic Parliamentary Policies and Good Governance’

Quality of Governance, People, Socio-economic environment and systems, Relations

Dr Michel van Hulten[1]

Monday 11th of August 2014, 13.30-15.30 hrs at Institute ‘Clingendael’, The Hague, The Netherlands


Address: Clingendael 7, 2597 VH The Hague, P.O. Box 93080, 2509 AB The Hague,

Tel 31-70 324 5384, Telefax 31-70 328 2002, info@clingendael.nl 


Quality of Governance:

– People (quality of individuals), their roles and behavior

– System – Environment/Institutions (systems that formalize behavior),

– Relations (between citizens, autocratic/democratic)


People: You and me. Let me begin to introduce myself and my next of kin.


Who is Michel van Hulten? Where does he come from? [2]

I am a Dutch citizen, born in 1930 from a modest family. My father was a primary school-teacher who worked six years in Batavia, now Jakarta, Indonesia from 1928 till 1934. He died when he was 91. My mother was a housewife. She also died at 91.

My educational background: primary school teacher, followed by academic studies in human geography, and a PhD (1962) based on a study of the Collectivization of agriculture in the People’s Republic of Poland in the years 1944-1960. Presented and defended in the University of Amsterdam after a field study done in Poland in the years 1958-1960. Most of my work-life I spent as a researcher and educator. Politics has always been important and culminated in becoming Senator, Representative and Deputy-minister in the ’70s.

Married since 1966 with Els, also an Amsterdam University graduate, a German and Roman languages philologist. She also began as a primary school teacher in the Netherlands, graduated as a teacher for secondary school, and entered local and regional political activities. We have two sons and two daughters: our children went respectively to LSE, Imperial College, Delft University, and SOAS. They live now in the Netherlands, Brussels and Shanghai. They have become world citizens with friends all over the place.

None of us are ‘top-guns’ in our society, we enjoy a decent life, make good incomes, live in peace and in a safe and secure society, we are free and we feel free and we can decide about our life circumstances, can speak out freely, assemble for worship and politics freely, or don’t, and decide who will govern us.

In particular for you I mention that I had a chance to visit and do research in Nigeria on behalf of my Government for six weeks in the sixties. Later, I also worked between 1978 and 1996 in many countries of Africa, among others for the UNDP and the Global Coalition for Africa (World Bank) and lately nine months in 2008 in Cameroon as advisor to the Prime Minister on the national fight against corruption. I left disillusioned as the President did not agree.

It is time to turn to you.

Who are you?

I mention these personal details as in my perception, your country and your people are now in the phase in which we, the Dutch and some others, were some fifty to a hundred years ago, at a time in which most of our Dutch people did have at most primary school education, personal and national incomes were still rather low. Then, only the happy few profited from the development of relations, institutions, capability, income and wealth, and authority. Justice, equal rights, human rights had still to win dominance. If you take a long term perspective you might see Nigeria in fifty years as you now see the Netherlands.

From the title in the name given to this course I understand that you are ‘Parliamentary Technocrats’. I assume that you are quite diverse, among you Yoruba, Hausa, Ibo and others, but you are also alike as all of you understand my English. You carry the same passports, you all have had school-education, and probably made academic studies. You have been chosen for this course. You have all seen more than your family, village, country. This is important as it influences your and mine/our futures.

However, you cannot wait fifty years. You want for yourself and for your countrymen and the world, quality of life right now. Therefore, let us have a look at people around you in your social-economic environment, and at mutual relations between you, people around you, and the natural and man-made environments in which you and your next of kin and your countrymen live and work. What quality is there now and how will we get better quality soonest?

Who is ‘the people’?

We are a small nation, less than 17 million on 34.000 km2 of territory. You are a big nation with approximately ten times more, 174 million inhabitants on over 900.000 km2. We are honored to see that you come nevertheless to us to be taught about qualities of governance. Are we comparable?
You dominate your geographical environment of African States, we are only a small entity in our European Union. You come from a Federal State with many peoples and languages, represented at national level by far less Senators and Representatives per inhabitant than is the case in the Netherlands. We have 12 provinces in a country which is a unified state and a monarchy. This is rather interesting as for centuries the Netherlands was a Republic of seven provinces plus some acquired territories which only since two centuries became a unified Kingdom with a royal family that previously served the people as top civil servants (between 1568 and 1813).

Power shifts away from the center,
upwards ( → EU) as well as downwards ( → Local authorities)

I find it most interesting to observe that ‘we, the people’ (through the intermediary of our political Representatives) accomplish in the Netherlands a rather recent shifting of public powers and budgets in two directions away from the central government in The Hague. Looking at these moves we are already directly at the heart of strategy in politics. And of a Parliament that is reducing its powers!

Part of the shift is from the national level downwards to the provinces and the municipalities, dictated by the liberal political choice to have individuals cater for themselves: people should – as individuals – solve their own problems at the lowest possible level of collaboration and make use of their own capabilities. This is a move away from the socialist welfare state-approach to help each other and to assure everybody that in the final end the state takes care of you.

The other part of the shift is upwards: mostly to the EU, in particular to the European Commission in Brussels, but also to other international and multinational institutions as the UN and its subsidiaries, NATO, OECD, World Bank, IMF, ECB-European Central Bank, Council of Europe, etcetera. We see also a rather slow, but obviously irresistible move of parliamentary powers strengthening the European Parliament not only in her relationship with the European Commission but also in relation to decisions coming from the national parliaments of the 28 EU-Member-States. National borders are erased. One by one these Member States also offer their national currencies and enter the EURO monetary system, now already 15. What began in 1948 as a rapprochement of two unfriendly states, France and Germany (with Italy and the Benelux-partners) in order to ban the possibility of warfare between the two, has turned into a federalization of Europe which is not yet formally declared (on the contrary, it is formally opposed in particular by some politicians in the UK and by a major political party in France) but is growing anyhow. We see in the most recent developments of the relationships between the EU- (Member States), the Russian Federation and the Ukraine, how important this development has become for politics in general in each one of our national states.

We see the same elsewhere in the world

We see that similar parallel movements take place all over the world. Globalization and localization go hand in hand. Problems and solutions in our societies should be dealt with at lowest level possible. More and more people belief that ‘small is beautiful’, that local products should answer local needs, that people should be empowered to deal with their own problems and govern themselves. This changes the role of parliamentarians as much as the globalization of decision-making by other bodies.

Indeed, we also see that Nigeria takes part in the development of the African Union comprising all 54 African states, and that the country is as much a Member of the UN as the Netherlands. In Latin America we see the development of Mercosur, basically a common market entity but also taking political decisions in a growing integration process involving ministers of the Member-states and since 2006 with its own Parliament. The Russian Federation is the successor to most of the Soviet Union. Around the Pacific Ocean we see the development of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), a forum for 21 Pacific Rim member economies that seeks to promote free trade and economic cooperation throughout the Asia-Pacific region. ASEAN groups together ten countries in South-East Asia, of which Indonesia is the biggest one. The Arab League includes 22 nations. And there are more of these associations.

Obviously, everywhere governments flock together and unite on policies with regard to parts or the whole of their duties and responsibilities, which includes handing over part of the national sovereignty to super-national organizations.

I will not say much about similar developments in and with the civil societies in all our countries and their organizations, their roles, intentions and means. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent deal with national as well as with border-crossing humanitarian issues, Amnesty International similarly deals with Justice, Pax Christi and the World Council of Churches with peace, Consumers International with consumer rights and protection, and Transparency International with corruption and integrity. All this could also be firmly in the hands of the governments of the world, guided and controlled by their own parliaments. Obviously, the governments left voids that are now filled by Civil Society Organizations (CSOs). No wonder that also Members of Parliaments find their own ways and means to deal with their national problems and finding solutions, circumventing their own governments by creating and acting through their own international associations like e.g. the Centre for International Conflict Analysis and Management (CICAM), the association of Parliamentarians for Global Action, and the Association of European Parliamentarians with Africa (AWEPA). You will meet later this week with their representatives. I urge you to discuss this phenomenon with them.

Some fear that this so-called ‘loss of sovereignty’ is not beneficial to our societies. Why? If we only look at the ‘Euro-sceptics’, we see that against all expectations, they – as candidates for the European Parliament – did not win much seats in the European elections of 22nd of May 2014. Obviously the voters were more EU-inclined than these politicians, and more influenced by EU-friendly organizations and interests. This helps grow the trend towards more integration in the EU. More people and consequently (as more people mean also more voters) more people-representatives see this as beneficial and as an expression of good governance.

Power with the people or with business?

Everywhere in the world we see that peoples and nations are coming together in larger entities in order to win capability to solve problems of our modern times. We seem to understand that it is not only the individual qualities of people that are decisive for good governance but that we have to look at the systems in which people work together in answering their needs, if we want to progress in wealth and welfare. Nevertheless a real ‘world government’ does not (yet?) exist.

This is also felt as the world economy is more and more dominated and decided by the few major large multinationals with budgets equaling and surpassing the budgets of many of the states in the world. It is fine to give people a vote in democratic developments to govern their own affairs, but what if the real power is in the hands of a few oligarchs?

What are the relative power positions of the Dutch Government and of the Board of Shell in our relations with the Russian Federation? What does it mean for Nigeria that a world economic power like Shell is so dominant in the oil production and export of your country? What does it mean that this product is so dominant in your economy?

Shell International contributes per year more than five percent (> euro) of the total direct and indirect tax-income of the Netherlands. Can this be without consequences for the relations between the Government and the CEO of Shell?

In governance-studies we habitually pay attention to nepotism and favoritism. What to think  of the fact that former Shell-employees play or played important roles in Dutch political circles, and that former politicians move to Shell to positions at the level of director and higher? Former Shell CEO Jeroen van der Veer advises NATO about the future.

What is the system? Improve systems?

People in governance do not work in a void. They are individuals who received their public powers by election from the people (Senators and Representatives) or by appointment from their authorities (Public Servants).

The powers which they received should serve the people and the welfare of all.

Bad governance uses these powers for private enrichment, for the acquisition of private wealth and privileges. If entrusted power is being used for private profit, we call this corruption, which is a socio-economic disease infecting all societies around the world.

People are not born corrupt. To become corrupt in one’s behavior is not genetically determined. It is the result of learning to behave corrupt. So unlearning is possible.

Therefore it is not justifiable to conclude (as is often done) that people from the South of the Netherlands is by definition more corrupt than people from the North of the country. Similarly, in Europe Italians are not by definition more corrupt than Swedes or other Northerners. Africans are not more corrupt than Europeans.

It is the socio-economic environment, culture, history, circumstances in life and work that make corruption possible and acceptable. This also means that fighting corruption has to deal in the first place with the systems of relationships that exist in each and every society. These systems either spontaneously develop (ethnic and family, religious, school, workplace) or they are instituted by law and rule. Finding and judging individuals is a minimalist approach.

Many initiatives exist to improve the quality of governance and to safeguard public values: either in terms of policies, systems, instruments or leadership processes (e.g., anti-corruption agencies, civil society involvement, judicial actors, ombudsmen, auditing and oversight divisions, etc.).  How do these various ‘Quality of governance’ initiatives relate to each other? How do they promote particular relevant values and what works in which contexts?

What do values matter in decision-making or policy-implementation? How are values managed and how do we connect them to citizens, politicians or street-level bureaucrats? What do we know about the content and causes of bad governance, such as corruption and other integrity violations? How does good and bad governance affect governance processes, policies and outcome?

What makes governance good, or bad?

Three factors seem to be of overriding importance: integrity, transparency and accountability.

To frame this simple:

Public officials, public servants and politicians alike, should behave properly, ‘integer’, serving the people and the general welfare, not aiming at personal enrichment or other private profits.

Whatever you do that may be seen and experienced by others, is good. Whatever is hidden (whatever you want to hide from public scrutiny) provides the suspicion that the actor at least is in doubt of the righteousness of his behavior, if not he knows already that he is doing wrong. If you are behaving wrongly and you know, you prefer that others will not see or know what you are doing.

Be sure that the ones in power account for what they are doing.

I noticed in your program of this course that you will pay a Working visit to the International Criminal Court (ICC). This will certainly help you to understand accountability.

There is no time now and here to discuss all this in detail, therefore I will restrict myself to show some of the context in which good governance may flourish and what challenges the quality of governance.

To establish National Integrity System Assessments in Europe

In 2011 the European Commission began a research program addressing all Member-states and contracted the Secretariat in Berlin of Transparency International to conduct in-depth evaluations of the governance systems in 23 EU member states[3] (Austria, Cyprus and Malta not included). Per country a research antenna was established and contracted to do the actual work per country, for the Netherlands this was the SAXION Corruption & Integrity Unit in the School of Governance and Law.[4] Lead author Willeke Slingerland.

Under this contract so-called National Integrity System Assessments have been made providing the basis for targeted advocacy and policy reform initiatives at country and EU level seeking to address major transparency, accountability and integrity gaps. The assessments will examine the thirteen main integrity ‘pillars’ of each country’s governance system in terms of their resources, internal governance mechanisms and their overall contribution to the system of integrity.

The National Integrity System (NIS) assessment approach provides a framework which anti-corruption organisations can use to analyse both the extent and causes of corruption in a given country as well as the effectiveness of national anti-corruption efforts. This analysis is undertaken via a consultative approach, involving the key anti-corruption agents in government, civil society, the business community and other relevant sectors with a view to building momentum, political will and civic pressure for relevant reform initiatives.

The assessment makes use of the concept of the National Integrity System (NIS), which has been developed and promoted by TI as part of its holistic approach to countering corruption. TheNISconsists of the principle institutions and actors that contribute to integrity, transparency and accountability in a society.

A well-functioning NIS provides effective safeguards against corruption as part of the larger struggle against abuse of power, malfeasance, and misappropriation in all its forms. However, when these institutions are characterised by a lack of appropriate regulations and by unaccountable behaviour, corruption is likely to thrive with negative ripple effects for the societal goals of equitable growth, sustainable development and social cohesion. Strengthening theNISpromotes better governance across all aspects of society, and, ultimately, contributes to a more just society overall, as depicted in theNISTemple.

The NISapproach underpins many aspects of TI’s work, including much of the national and international advocacy undertaken by the TI movement. It also provides the conceptual basis for many TI publications, including the NIS country assessments, the TI Source Book, and the Anti-Corruption Handbook: National Integrity Systems in Practice[5].

Use of perceptions
Most of the public judgments on the size of corruption in the world are based on research that makes use of perceptions by observers. How subjective can these be? How reliable are their observations?

Their perceptions qualify mostly a country, a trade or a profession. Subsequently, these qualifications (‘scores’) are ranked and give us some idea about the relative size of corruption as perceived by – at least sometimes – biased samples of respondents that do the qualifying per country, trade, or profession. It is already difficult to observe the outright ‘cash corruption of the policeman who wants a bribe’, it is still more difficult for these observers to see the influence peddling. How does this influence their perceptions?

Nevertheless, in the media but also among authorities in governmental institutions, and among entrepreneurs, taking decisions for instance by governments about aid allocations, and by entrepreneurs about business investments, this leads often to qualifications answering the question:

Which country is most or least corrupt in the world? And: which country is improving integrity and which one is sliding down the slippery slope of growing corruption?

The judgment leaps from perception to fact.

The annually issued Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) is probably best known. As the name says rightly, the Indices as being measured are not more than the results of measurements of the perceptions or images as seen by a biased sample of mostly western-oriented businessmen and researchers. The resulting scores and rankings of the state of corruption per country as is reported do not present facts[6]. I titled my review of the new CPI as ‘scientifically not defendable’. However, many outsiders, in particular governments, react as if they are confronted with the facts.

Measurement Tools in Sub-Saharan Africa

Since December 2007, we dispose of a study-report commissioned by UNDP to the Oslo Governance Centre and prepared by Corinna Zőllner and Isabel Teichman, Mapping of Corruption and Governance Measurement Tools in Sub-Saharan Africa. This study covers 42 types of tools in 28 countries most of them implemented since 2004.


→ TI2007_Measurement_Tools_in_Africa_Report.pdf

The purpose of this mapping exercise, commissioned to Transparency International (TI) by the United National Development Programme-UNDP, is to identify and characterize local, national and international (cross-country) tools that measure corruption and good governance in Sub-Saharan Africa. The mapping covers 42 types of tools in 28 countries. The focus is on quantitative measurement tools carried out in the last decade, with the great majority developed and implemented since 2004.

Tools are listed in the exercise both by type of tools (opinion surveys, public sector diagnostics, private sector surveys, etc.), and by country. Each tool is described in terms of its type, what population it covers, who commissioned it, who is funding it, the methodology employed, its purpose and impact. Another key aspect is the extent to which the pro-poor and gender dimensions are addressed for each tool presented.

For Nigeria reference is made to para The Nigerian Governance and Corruption Surveys. Quite some documents can be found under this or slightly different titles.

Cross-border corruption

Measurement of corruption cannot be limited to that part of corrupt behaviour that is ‘national’.  From strong economies (including strong emerging economies) major efforts may emanate that lead to corrupt behaviour among (for those economies foreign) public officials and politicians.

Also needed is measuring their involvement as ‘accessories’ to corruption related crimes through the laundering of the proceeds of corruption.


Research proposals

  1. Should we put a lot of money, precious time and scarce capacity for scientific research into measuring corruption, taking into account limited chances of success and the limited value of results?
  2. Would it not be more useful and urgent to focus research instead on the way corruption works and how it affects the administration/government and its stakeholders alike?
  3. Which type of officials and official bodies are affected or run a particular risk to be affected?
  4. Who are stakeholders and what is their stake?
  5. Can we identify triggers that turn risks into reality?
  6. Can those triggers be found in other sectors, institutions or persons than in cases included in the research?
  7. And the one million dollar question: which measures must be taken by entities such as stake holders, officials, administration and government, societies and international governmental or non-governmental institutions to avoid these risks or to avoid that these risks actually result in corruption?



[1]Professor of Governance at School of Governance, Law and Urban Developments in SAXION University of Applied Sciences, Enschede/Deventer, the Netherlands, www.corruptie.org, michelvanhulten@planet.nl

[3]See www.transparency.org/nis. (From TI, Anti-Corruption Research News, ISSUE 2, February 2010, p. 7, see http://www.transparency.org/policy_research/nis, ACRN News is edited by Marie Chêne, E-mail: mchene@transparency.org )

[4]National Integrity System Assessment Netherlands, 2012, seehttp://www.corruptie.org/en/research/nis/

[5] For information about the NIS approach, contact TI at nis@transparency.org.

The text above on NIS is borrowed from: http://www.transparency.org/policy_research/nis

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