Research Handbook on Transparency
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Research Handbook on Transparency

Edited by Padideh Ala’i and Robert G. Vaughn

In the last two decades transparency has become a ubiquitous and stubbornly ambiguous term. Typically understood to promote rule of law, democratic participation, anti-corruption initiatives, human rights, and economic efficiency, transparency can also legitimate bureaucratic power, advance undemocratic forms of governance, and aid in global centralization of power. This path-breaking volume, comprising original contributions on a range of countries and environments, exposes the many faces of transparency by allowing readers to see the uncertainties, inconsistencies and surprises contained within the current conceptions and applications of the term.
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Chapter 1: Transparency and closure

H. Patrick Glenn


The debate over transparency is widespread in the world, though of varying intensity. There are fundamental, underlying reasons, moreover, for both its ubiquity and its variability. Its ubiquity is the easiest to demonstrate. It is raised as an issue across the entire spectrum of public and private law and in a remarkable range of human activities of more, or less, legal concern. The 2012 Congress of the International Association of Legal Methodology thus addressed transparency as a ‘principle of governance’ in legislation, regulation, judgment and contract, and the choice of topic is the result of ongoing preoccupation with the subject in all governmental institutions. In the United States, the Obama administration issued an Open Government Directive in 2009, complementing existing Freedom of Information legislation, and US concern is mirrored at the level of the United Nations (UN) through its Open Government Partnership, a new ‘global club’ created in 2011 and open to all states willing to commit to basic standards of openness, such as publication of a draft state budget. While most efforts towards transparency have been undertaken in legislative and executive branches, as is illustrated by the contents of this volume, the judiciary has not been exempted from the debate.

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