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 Public Service Professional Ethics For Africa (Manual/CD-ROM) (2003)
Focus: ICT for MDGs, Citizen Engagement
Description: A mere decade ago, this training material on Public Service Professional Ethics For Africa (Manual/CD-ROM in French) - would not have been possible, but now it is available online. Users can also enroll the training version of CD-ROM via UNPAN Online Training Centre. It is especially fitting that, at the turn of the Millennium, the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations (UNDESA) took the initiative to develop a training material on Public Service Professional Ethics for Developing Countries as recommended by the GA resolution 50/225 on public administration. For that purpose, the choice was to start with the African continent and in doing so to reply to the request of the Public Administration Ministers during their second Pan African meeting in 1998 in Rabat, Morocco and their third one in 2001 in Windhoek, Namibia. During those meetings, the Ministers pointed out that the development of ethics and professional integrity in government and the public service are indispensable, not only in the battle against corruption, but also in the development of modern, effective systems of public management, and thus of the continent itself. The Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM/DESA) organized jointly with CAFRAD a brainstorming and on-the-spot training workshop in Tangiers on professional ethics for public service for French-speaking African countries from 22 May to 3 June 2000.

Representatives of seven countries (six from Africa: Cameroon, Madagascar, Mali, Morocco, Libya and Rwanda and one from Asia: Cambodia) met in Tangiers with the UNDESA experts, Ms. Najet Karaborni (Project Manager Manual/CD-ROM Ethics in Africa) and Mr. Howard Whitton (Project Manager/CD-ROM Ethics in Australia), to consider the problem of professional ethics in the civil service of today, and, after much intensive discussion of ethical and political theory, systems of law and governance, approaches to public administration, and the role of the media, citizens and civil society, were able to synthesize their insights as a framework for practical action.

The resulting training material on Professional Ethics for the Civil Service shows that professional ethics for the civil service is today a very complex matter. It is no longer enough that civil servants fight against corruption, abuse of office, influence peddling, and bad administration, although that is now recognized as an irreducible minimum if democratic governance is to survive. While there is increasing agreement, including international agreement, about what we need to do to curb official corruption, comparable agreement on how to answer the central ethics question which confronts public officials on a daily basis, namely - What is my ethical duty, in terms of the public interest, in this matter? - has continued to elude us.

Accordingly, we set out to base this training material on the insights of practising professionals and scholars from a wide range of disciplines and cultures. We also developed a CD-ROM on ethical dilemmas (nepotism, favoritism,) that every civil servant may be exposed to and has to deal with every day. In so doing, we have sought to take account of lessons learned in recent decades about how to make the administration of the business of government more effective, equitable, innovative, responsive, transparent, and ethical, and less arbitrary, inefficient, secretive and self-perpetuating. It is our confident hope that this training material, with its emphasis on action rather than theory, will prove to be of practical value to all who use it, whether it is to develop better macro-systems of public governance, or to find competent and defensible answers to specific professional ethics dilemmas in the public service. We did not stop at the technical concerns of managerial effectiveness, political legitimacy, efficient service delivery, and accountability for the use of public resources (as important as these matters are), we also considered the fundamental concerns of ethical government and public administration.

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