Public policy is the principled guide to action taken by the administrative executive branches of the state with regard to a class of issues, in a manner consistent with law and institutional customs.
This article tries to evaluate the relationship between public policy, governance, and peace. Peace can be thought of as an absence of violence and governance is the process of controlling some elements in an organization. Peace, governance, and public policy are interlinked in various ways which are discussed in this paper.
The article also tries to evaluate the “National Education Policy” of Bangladesh through various theoretical lenses. The first part of this paper describes “what is public policy?”, then the relationship between governance public policy and peace is discussed, in the last part, the national education policy of Bangladesh is evaluated.
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines public policy as, government policies that affect the whole population(Marriam-Webster). This definition is suitable for a dictionary but not for analytical purposes. Many scholars have given various definitions but perhaps the shortest and most accurate definition is given by, Thomas Dye, who defines public policy as “Whatever governments choose to do or not to do.”(Dye, 1992) Some other definitions provided by various authors are given below,
|“ Term public policy always refers to the actions of government and theintentions that determine those actions”||Clarke E. Cochran et al.|
|“Public policy consists of political decisions for implementing programs to achieve societal goals”||Clarke E. Cochran et al.|
|“Public policy consists of political decisions for implementing programsto achieve societal goals”||Charles L. Cochran and EloiseF. Malonec|
|“Stated most simply, public policy is the sum of government activities, whether acting directly or through agents, as it has an influence on theLife of citizens.”||B.Guy Petersd|
Table 1 Definition of Public Policy by various Authors(Birkland, 2011)
The definitions mentioned above are not all complete in a sense that they don’t fully describe the public policy as a dynamic process of ever-changing factors. Each definition has its own strengths and weaknesses. Though no single definition is sufficient but from the definitions we can get some key points about public policy which are stated below,
- The policy is made in response to some sort of problem that requires attention.
- The public is made on the “public’s” behalf. The policy is oriented toward a goal or desired state, such as the solution of a problem.
- The policy is ultimately made by governments, even if the ideas come from outside government or through the interaction of government and non-governmental actors.
- The policy is interpreted and implemented by public and private actors who have different interpretations of problems, solutions, and their own motivations.
- The policy is what the government chooses to do or not to do.(Birkland, 2011)
So, from the discussion above, we can conceptualize public policy as a guideline that a government creates to solve a problem that has arisen in the public sphere. Often times we consider public policies as equal to laws and regulations in a country , but laws are the product of various public policies and policies are the things that govern which laws are created or which things should be regulated.
Policies take many different forms. A policy might be a law, or a regulation, or the set of all the laws and regulations that govern a particular issue area or problem. (Birkland, 2011)
Public policies are created by the government to regulate the “public Sphere”; the public sphere can be as small as an apartment complex, or a small village, or as large as a whole nation, or even the world. Whatever the scale, public policies address problems that are public, or, more importantly, that some number of people think should be public instead of private. Indeed, a key feature of politics and policy decision making is the very definition of what problems are public and which are private.(Birkland, 2011)
Governance is all of the processes of governing, whether undertaken by a government, market or network, whether over a family, tribe, formal or informal organization or territory and whether through the laws, norms, power or language of an organized society. It relates to “the processes of interaction and decision-making among the actors involved in a collective problem that lead to the creation, reinforcement, or reproduction of social norms and institutions.(Hufty, 2001)
The concept of “governance” is not new. It is as old as human civilization. Simply put “governance” means: the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented). Governance can be used in several contexts such as corporate governance, international governance, national governance and local governance.( ESCAP, 2009)
The use of the term governance in its current broader sense, encompassing the activities of a wide range of public and private institutions, acquired general currency only as recently as the 1990s, when it was re-minted by economists and political scientists and disseminated by institutions such as the UN, IMF and World Bank. Since then, the term has steadily gained increasing usage.
Good governance is an indeterminate term used in the international development literature to describe how public institutions conduct public affairs and manage public resources. Governance is “the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented)”. ( ESCAP, 2009)
Good governance is about the processes for making and implementing decisions. It’s not about making ‘correct’ decisions, but about the best possible process for making those decisions.( THE GOOD GOVERNANCE GUIDE)
United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific’s report on good governance gives some characteristics of good governance as,
- It is participatory, consensus oriented, accountable, transparent, responsive, effective and efficient, equitable and inclusive and follows the rule of law.
- It assures that corruption is minimized, the views of minorities are taken into account and that the voices of the most vulnerable in society are heard in decision-making.
- It is also responsive to the present and future needs of society. ( ESCAP, 2009)
|Common and Significant Features in Definitions of Good Governance|
|• Serving the Common Good|
|• Monitoring of authority|
|• Democratically elected, Representative, and Participatory governments|
|• Accountability; Responsiveness; Transparency; Efficiency|
|• Rule of Law and Equal Justice under the law|
|• Government Capacity to manage resources and implement sound policies|
|• Government Ability to maintain social peace, law and order, economic growth, and a minimum|
|level of social security|
|• Government Ability to reform structures and processes|
|• Government Ability to implement policy effectively|
|• Respect of Citizens and the state for the institutions that govern economic and social interactions|
|• Interaction between academics and policy makers|
|• Learning; Problem Reformulation|
|• Actors include but are not limited to the Private Sector, Civil Society, and the state|
Table 2 : Common and Significant Features in Definitions of Good Governance(Parto, 2005)
In simple terms peace can be described as the absence of violence. Violence can be defined as the difference between the actual and the expected.
Johan Galtung has classified three types of violence, ( Harvard Divinity School)
- Direct Violence represents behaviors that serve to threaten life itself and/or to diminish one’s capacity to meet basic human needs. Examples include killing, maiming, bullying, sexual assault, and emotional manipulation.
- Structural Violence represents the systematic ways in which some groups are hindered from equal access to opportunities, goods, and services that enable the fulfillment of basic human needs. These can be formal as in legal structures that enforce marginalization (such as Apartheid in South Africa) or they could be culturally functional but without legal mandate (such as limited access to education or health care for marginalized groups).
- Cultural Violence represents the existence of prevailing or prominent social norms that make direct and structural violence seem “natural” or “right” or at least acceptable. For example, the belief that Africans are primitive and intellectually inferior to Caucasians gave sanction to the African slave trade. Galtung’s understanding of cultural violence helps explain how prominent beliefs can become so embedded in a given culture that they function as absolute and inevitable and are reproduced uncritically across generations.
Direct violence is the basic form of violence , the type we most associate with the word “violence”, the latter two are discussed more in academic settings.
There can’t ever exist a state of total peace in a society. Every society is somewhat violent or peaceful. The scale of peace is defined as more or less peaceful, or less or more violent for any region or society.
Good Governance and Peace , Violence:
Good governance by definition of the term has to be effective in administering public good . Most definitions of good governance have the following issues common,
- Rule of law
- Consensus orientation
- Effectiveness and efficiency
- Strategic vision
Good governance would ensure development. Good governance would ensure freedoms for the people which in turn would create peace. (Sen, 1999)
If these things are ensured then structural violence would cease to exist in a society and it would become more and more peaceful. The term good governance itself has been coined to encompass all things that hinder a society’s development. If good governance is ensured the population would enjoy less structural violence, as governance would be done with the participation of all people, with law being abided by all. As all would participate in the process the laws must be good for all people and won’t be discriminatory against some people or groups of people. As there would be transparency, equality and accountability, there would be little chance of ignoring or discriminating against someone or some group. Thus structural violence would cease to exist in a country with good governance. Direct violence is also going to be rare as , according to Galtung’s Violence Triangle (1969,1996), Cultural and Structural Violence cause Direct Violence. Direct Violence reinforces Structural and Cultural violence. Direct Violence, Physical and/or verbal, is visible as behavior in the triangle. However, this action does not come out of nowhere; its roots are cultural and structural. So it can be said that, good governance would create peace by eliminating all sorts of violence.
Peace, Public Policy and Good Governance: A Triangle
To ensure good governance, the public policy process needs to be transparent, effective and inclusive. A good public policy process with good implementation mechanism can create a situation where governance is effective and efficient. On the other hand, to ensure good governance, one needs to have a good public policy process. As it has been seen earlier, good governance creates peace by eliminating structural violence which breaks the violence triangle and ensures peace among citizens. Thus it can be said that peace, good governance and a good public policy process are three legs of a triangle. Each part is essential for the survival of the other , as without peace , there can’t be good governance thus there cant be good public policy process , without a good public policy process there can’t be good governance , thus peace , and without good governance there can’t be peace or good public policy process.
These claims mentioned above are only theoretical, as there can’t exist a perfectly good public policy process, good governance or total peace. In their real life each thing has some flaws.
The triangle relationship mentioned here , is not one sided , but each side can contribute in one or other direction , such as peace can create good governance or vice versa , good governance can create peace. But, their relationship is always parallel , as a bad public policy process won’t give you peace or good governance , or anarchy and violence won’t create good governance.
ESCAP. (2009, July 10). What is Good Governance? Retrieved November 20, 2017, from The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP): http://www.unescap.org/resources/what-good-governance
Harvard Divinity School. (n.d.). Typologies of Violence and Peace. Retrieved November 20, 2017, from https://rlp.hds.harvard.edu/typologies-violence-and-peace
THE GOOD GOVERNANCE GUIDE. (n.d.). WHAT IS GOOD GOVERNANCE? Retrieved November 20, 2017, from THE GOOD GOVERNANCE GUIDE: http://www.goodgovernance.org.au/about-good-governance/what-is-good-governance/
Birkland, T. A. (2011). An introduction to the policy process : theories, concepts, and models of public policy making. New York, USA: Routledge.
Dye, T. R. (1992). Understanding Public Policy. Englewood Cliffs,NJ : Prentice-Hall.
Hufty, M. (2001). Investigating Policy Processes: The Governance Analytical Framework (GAF) . Retrieved October 2017, 20, from University of Bern : https://boris.unibe.ch/68343/1/20_Hufty_GAF.pdf
Marriam-Webster. (n.d.). public policy. Retrieved from Marriam-Webster: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/public%20policy
Parto, S. (2005). «Good » Governance and Policy Analysis :What of Institutions ? MD Maastricht , The Netherlands: Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology , University of Maastricht.
Sen, A. (1999). Development as Freedom. Oxford, UK : Oxford University Press