Taken from “Governance in the Caribbean” edited by Selwyn Ryan and Ann Marie Bissessar.

The 1980s heralded a new phase in the debate about methods of governing. The 'old' method of government had been found wanting and many countries attempted to reform or re-engineer their structures and methods of government.This 'new' shift has been referred to as 'governance. ''Government' was traditionally defined as the activity or the process of governing; a condition of ordered rule, those people charged with the duty of 'governing' or 'governors, ' the manner, method or system by which a particular society was governed. On the other hand, governance signified a change in the meaning of government referring to a new process of governing; a changed condition of ordered rule; or the new method by which a society is governed. A summary of the literature on governance suggests that there are six main features associated with this new paradigm, namely:

  Changes in the role of the state from a welfare/provider state to a minimal state

  New roles for government in which the emphasis is on corporate governance

   The application of private sector techniques and the introduction of New Public Management

   A thrust towards 'good governance'

  The introduction of what Rhodes (1996) refers to as "self-organizing networks"

  A new and enlarged role for civil society and the private sector.

In summary what is suggested is that governments are increasingly moving away from their former roles as welfare providers to one where they are asked to provide overall direction. Service delivery is accordingly left open to market forces.


However, it is suggested that effective 'governance' rests on the application of fundamental principles which apply equally to both the public and the private sectors. The more critical of these principles include:

   Openness or transparency in the disclosure of information

   Integrity or straightforward dealing and completeness

• Accountability or holding individuals responsible for their actions by a clear allocation of responsibilities and clearly defined rules

Three strands of good governance have been identified: systemic, political and administrative. The systemic conception of governance is broader than government covering the distribution of both internal and external political power. The political use of governance refers to a state enjoying both legitimacy and authority derived from a democratic mandate; while the adminis­trative concept refers to an efficient, open, accountable and audited public service which has the bureaucratic competence to help design and implement appropriate policies. In other words, 'good governance' marries New Public Management to the advocacy of liberal democracy.

It is perhaps appropriate, then, to begin this section with an article by Ryan entitled "Good Governance: Old Wine in New Bottles?" Ryan argues that the concept of governance is not new and the 'rediscovery' of governance is a response to state and market failures in various parts of the world. He also argues that the traditional notions of sovereignty have become obsolete and that the new emphasis on governance reflects a renewed appreciation of the "nature of power in modern society."

The contribution by La Guerre also examines the political determinants for good governance. He questions whether the Westminster Whitehall model  is still relevant in meeting the needs of the countries of the Commonwealth Caribbean and in fact observes that in many cases it is blamed for some of the difficult political problems being encountered. Yet, he argues, that what has become clear is that the problems of Guyana and Trinidad are fundamentally different from those of the rest of the Caribbean. In the latter countries, some of the problems have to do with the functioning of political institutions such as political patronage, Government-Opposition relations, the traumas of transition from one regime to another and the failure of the public services to function as an impartial or neutral set of institutions. In Guyana and Trinidad, the problem is identified as the degree of ethnic cleavage.

Nettleford, in his article, looks at some of the manifestations of the crisis in governance. Like La Guerre, he notes that one of the more critical problems is the application of the 'management factor' in 'political leadership.' He suggests that the way forward for governance in the contemporary Caribbean is dependent on 'government's and political leaders' reconsidered role in a new configuration of partnership and participation involving the major stake-holders.

Little is known about the consensus model political system as it operates in Suriname, one of the newest members of Caricom. The strengths and weaknesses of the model are examined by Ryan and Menke. Menke, in his contribution, observes that there have been a number of changes in the political decision-making process. He notes that in the process of global restructuring, the focus of donors shifted from project planning to macro-economic policy programs, while the pre­conditions for providing aid shifted from project execution and evaluation to policy formulation. He argues, though, that Caribbean countries need to develop an integrated approach to the development of a regional identity with more emphasis on political integration, ethnic integration and democratization.

Ragoonath focuses on the adminis­trative strand of good governance. He looks at the challenges facing local government systems in the Caribbean. He contends that it is necessary for citizens to play a greater part in the decision-making process and that reform must be introduced in the legislative and administrative structures in order that participation by all sectors in the society might be enhanced.

The article by Tindigarukayo also focuses on the local government system. A similar case is made for the reform of these organizations. He adopts the view of a number of writers that in order for local government reforms to be successful, they have to incorporate at least three policy initiatives relating to public participation: effective citizen participation in all transactions that affect their lives and life chances; systems of co-managing, co-guiding and co-steering and partnerships within and throughout communities; and capacity building throughout the system to solve a range of community needs and problems.

The articles that follow are based on the legislative framework for good governance. The piece by Mendes sets the tone for the discussion when he states unequivocally that without doubt the rule of law is the quintessential principle of good governance as that concept is understood in a liberal democratic society. For example, he noted that citizens accept restraints on their liberty only if it was authorized by law and then only if that law met with the minimum standards of what is considered reasonably justifiable.

Maharaj, in his contribution, also agrees that legislation is critical if good governance is to be more than a mere 'buzz- word.' In his paper he looks at the various pieces of legislation enacted during his term as Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago (1995 -2000) and the advantages that were to be derived by the introduction of the various forms of legislation.

Francis looks at the issue of "Human Rights and Governance." He argues that while the protection of human rights is often regarded as being indispensable for the practice of good governance, that governance also stretches beyond the borders of civil liberties and basic rights and encompasses issues of accountability, transparency, and participation on the part of the civil society in the decision-making process and rule of law.

Bissessar, in her piece, suggests that what is necessary for ' good governance' is the

establishment of mechanisms or avenues to provide redress for groups which feel that they are being discriminated against either by way of direct or indirect discrimination. She also observes that these mechanisms may also lead to a greater measure -of 'representativeness' in the society.

Much has been said about the role of social partners in the development process. Much has also been written about the success achieved by Barbados in bringing the private sector and the trade unions into the policy making loop. Brown looks at this experiment and concludes that while it is effective and bears examination by the rest of the Caribbean, it is far from perfect. He also looks at the question of equity and diversity in the public services of Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago and concludes that ethnic insecurities are pervasive and severely reduces morale, job satisfaction and productivity.

The last two pieces in this section are related to the systemic strand in good governance. The piece by Jones for instance, "Maladministration and Corruption: Some Caribbean Realities" examines some of the factors that lead to administrative corruption in small states. One of the critical factors, he notes, is defective institution building. In addition, he cites other factors such as the "weakness of the state' along with a poor work ethic. This section ends with a piece by Ryan, "We are All Corrupt," a piece which is intended to tease the reader. Another piece, "Political Insurrection, Caricom and Good Governance in the Caribbean" explores the role that Caricom has been attempting to play in securing good governance among member states.