• 17 February 2022


    Posteado en : Interview

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    We promote tools to foster public ethics

    EUROsociAL+ has accompanied the Peruvian National Civil Service Authority (SERVIR) in the preparation of a guide for strengthening integrity in public management

    What are public ethics?

    There is no doubt that ethics are needed to be able to live in society. Further still, we need ethics to be able to coexist in society justly. Public ethics seek a minimum agreement that can be generalised to be able to live together justly. This guarantees long-term stability in societies. 

    Public ethics therefore refers to ethics that seek to establish a moral standard common to societies, morality of a universal and generalisable nature, which also respects private and reasonable conceptions of goodness. 

    Public ethics are different from public sector ethics, since the former are the ethics of an entire society, free of fundamentalism, and which allow everyone to live together while respecting our differences. For its part, public sector ethics are also referred to as political ethics, a type of professional ethics, and consist of firmly defined and established standards of behaviour, which prescribe what public employees must do, in terms of public service duties, principles, virtues and benefits for society. 

    How was the need for a guide to ethical dilemmas for public administration identified?

    Since 2020, the National Civil Service Authority of Peru (SERVIR) has been working on a model for improving integrity in the Peruvian Public Administration with a massive impact and a practical approach. With this strategic approach, the need for a self-learning guide document was identified to provide concept, reflection and action instruments for dealing with the typical ethical problems and risks to integrity facing the Peruvian public sector. It would be a document on which to base strategies and training actions with wide coverage. Both its content and the cases included in the guide are associated with the real situation in Peru, but it has other uses. It can be applied to other situations in Latin American countries. 

    The guide is based on the belief that public employees want to do things well and ethically. This is crucial, although unfortunately, despite their good intentions, inappropriate administrative practices, habits and rituals are rooted in our organisations, which are not analysed with the moral thoroughness expected of a good public service. Because of this, it persists and leads to the ethical stagnation of the public sector. Therefore, the guide also contains elements to analyse and question this type of practices from a moral standpoint and to strengthen the ethics and integrity of the public service through analysis and moral confrontation, based on a pragmatic approach and associated with the moral development of our institutions. 

    Could you give us some examples of cases where this guide would be useful?

    The guide is designed to offer tools to strengthen the moral behaviour of public officials, with case studies, and guidelines for action in ethically challenging situations. There are numerous examples. In extreme situations where it is necessary to correct the course of unethical administrative routines and practices such as dealing with unclear and biased public procurement processes; personnel and people management policies without the human factor and integrity; in cases where position and authority lacks effective control or supervision and may lead to bribery and other corrupt practices; or nepotism and favouring family members, friends or third parties for profit, making key administrative decisions without  due process, objectivity and impartiality. 

    The guide includes a selection of 78 cases classified by policy area, type of administrative activity and type impact on ethics and integrity. 

    How did EUROsociAL+ work with Peru to publish this guide?

    One possible approach to the fight against corruption is the regulatory-sanctioning approach, based on closer regulation, strict enforcement and firm prosecution, however, recent studies have shown it to be of only limited value in preventing corruption. 

    Based on these observations, a strategic approach has been devised in addition to the previous one, based on encouraging public integrity understood as adherence to and compliance with shared ethical values, principles and norms, to maintain and prioritise the public interest above private interests, in the public sector. 

    Faced with this complex problem, SERVIR asked the EUROsociAL + programme for support to strengthen the Peruvian public integrity system in the field of human resource management by introducing values, standards and guidelines in the Peruvian regulatory framework for the implementation of a new culture of integrity; and developing civil servants’ skills, with emphasis on management personnel, to manage a culture of integrity in the civil service. 

    As a result of this collaboration and based on different diagnoses, EUROsociAL+ advised on the preparation of the guide and final consultancy reports, a tool that was also shared through virtual seminars and workshops. 

    To see the full guide: 

    Practical guide to deal with ethical problems and dilemmas: strengthening integrity in Peruvian public management