UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has stated that ‘good governance is perhaps the single most important factor in eradicating poverty and promoting development’.1 If governance matters, so does the need for more reliable and valid data on key governance processes. The United Nations University (UNU) has begun to address this need with a World Governance Survey (WGS). A pilot phase was carried out in early 2001 and a larger round of country assessments is planned for 2003.2
In the pilot phase, governance assessments were undertaken in 16 developing and transitional societies, representing 51 per cent of the world’s population (see table). In each country, a national coordinator selected a panel of experts to complete the assessment. The panel comprised persons with extensive experience of the governance realm, including parliamentarians, researchers, lawyers and civil servants; around 35 people were interviewed per country.
The project identified 30 indicators based on widely held ‘principles’ of good governance: participation, fairness, decency, accountability, transparency and efficiency. Respondents were asked to rank each answer on a scale from 1 to 5; the higher the score, the better. In addition, respondents were invited to provide qualitative comments.
The table shows the median indicator rating for each country for the 10 indicators that relate particularly to accountability and transparency. It also shows the total governance score for each country. The total governance scores have a very robust correlation (0.77) with the country scores in Kaufmann et al.’s aggregate governance indicators, indicating the validity of the results.3