A Comparative Law Approach
Studies in Comparative Law and Legal Culture series
Edited by Jean-Bernard Auby, Emmanuel Breen and Thomas Perroud
Chapter 9: Conflict of interests of government members and the risk of corruption: An assessment of pre-revolutionary Tunisia and Egypt
'The Arab spring is about justice and equity as much as it is about democracy,' Jean-Marie Guéhenno explained in an article published in the New York Times in April 2011.This statement encapsulates the complexity of the protests at stake, as the claims put forth were of social, economic, political and moral nature at once. Autocratic rule has been a major source of discontentment in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. But the frustration and disillusion prompted by the consequences of widespread corruption have equally played an essential role in triggering the revolutions in late 2010/early 2011. What the protesters were essentially demanding was better governance, not to say good governance. Even though the exact content of what constitutes 'good governance' remains vague in the absence of a consensual definition, some key features have been identified by the Venice Commission: accountability, transparency and participation. In turn the infringement of human rights and the absence of the rule of law are characteristic of bad governance regimes, as is (large-scale) corruption. One major factor which facilitates corrupt behaviour is the lack of preventive measures and the absence of effective accountability mechanisms. The regulation and management of conflicts of interest - understood for the purpose of this chapter as 'an intrapersonal conflict arising within a human or an institution which is entrusted with […] decision-making'- are of utmost importance in this context.
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