Department of Economic and Social Affairs Public Institutions
Committee of Experts on Public Administration

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There are 11 principles of effective governance for sustainable development endorsed by ECOSOC. They are linked to 62 commonly used strategies for operationalizing responsive and effective governance. Many of these strategies have been recognized and endorsed over the years in various UN forums, resolutions and treaties.

Three first principles



To perform their functions effectively, institutions are to have sufficient expertise, resources and tools to deal adequately with the mandates under their authority


Commonly used strategies include the promotion of a professional public sector workforce, strategic human resources management, leadership development and training of civil servants, performance management, results-based management, financial management and control, efficient and fair revenue administration and investment in e-government. 


Sound policy-making


To achieve their intended results, public policies are to be coherent with one another and founded on true or well-established grounds, in full accordance with fact, reason and good sense


Commonly used strategies include strategic planning and foresight, regulatory impact analysis, promotion of coherent policymaking, strengthening national statistical systems, monitoring and evaluation systems, science-policy interface, risk management frameworks and data sharing.





To address problems of common interest, institutions at all levels of government and in all sectors should work together and jointly with non-State actors towards the same end, purpose and effect


Commonly used strategies include centre of government coordination under the Head of State or Government, collaboration, coordination, integration and dialogue across levels of government and functional areas, raising awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals, network-based governance and multi-stakeholder partnerships.


Three more principles accountability



To serve in the public interest, civil servants are to discharge their official duties honestly, fairly and in a manner consistent with soundness of moral principle


Commonly used strategies include the promotion of anti-corruption policies, practices and bodies, codes of conduct for public officials, competitive public procurement, elimination of bribery and trading in influence, conflict of interest policies, whistle-blower protection and provision of adequate remuneration and equitable pay scales for public servants.




To ensure accountability and enable public scrutiny, institutions are to be open and candid in the execution of their functions and promote access to information, subject only to the specific and limited exceptions as are provided by law


Commonly used strategies include proactive disclosure of information, budget transparency, open government data, registries of beneficial ownership and lobby registries.



Independent oversight


To retain trust in government, oversight agencies are to act according to strictly professional considerations and apart from and unaffected by others


Commonly used strategies include promotion of the independence of regulatory agencies, arrangements for review of administrative decisions by courts or other bodies, independent audit and respect for legality.


Five principles inclusiveness

Leaving no one behind


To ensure that all human beings can fulfil their potential in dignity and equality, public policies are to take into account the needs and aspirations of all segments of society, including the poorest and most vulnerable and those subject to discrimination


Commonly used strategies include the promotion of equitable fiscal and monetary policy, promotion of social equity, data disaggregation, and systematic follow-up and review.




To respect, protect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, access to public service is to be provided on general terms of equality, without distinction of any kind as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, disability or other status


Commonly used strategies include promotion of public sector workforce diversity, prohibition of discrimination in public service delivery, multilingual service delivery, accessibility standards, cultural audit of institutions, universal birth registration and gender-responsive budgeting.





To have an effective State, all significant political groups should be actively involved in matters that directly affect them and have a chance to influence policy


Commonly used strategies include free and fair elections, regulatory process of public consultation, multi-stakeholder forums, participatory budgeting and community-driven development.






To promote government that is responsive to the needs and aspirations of all people, central authorities should perform only those tasks which cannot be performed effectively at a more intermediate or local level


Commonly used strategies include fiscal federalism, strengthening urban governance, strengthening municipal finance and local finance systems, enhancement of local capacity for prevention, adaptation and mitigation of external shocks, and multilevel governance.



Intergenerational equity


To promote prosperity and quality of life for all, institutions should construct administrative acts that balance the short-term needs of today’s generation with the longer-term needs of future generations


Commonly used strategies include sustainable development impact assessment, long-term public debt management, long-term territorial planning and spatial development, and ecosystem management.