Promoting Accountability through Ethical Standards in Conflict-Affected States: the Liberian Civil Service
This report describes the effect that ethical codes can have in fostering accountability in the work of civil servants and the public administration. While this effect is relatively well documented in peaceful and well-off countries, the FBA has been able to find relatively few studies outlining the effect of civil service ethical management in fragile and conflict-affected settings such as Liberia.
Arguments in favour of ethical approaches are particularly strong in fragile settings. Conflict erodes trust in the state and the capacity of the civil service. By being seen to adopt an ethical approach and deliver goods and services to citizens in an accountable manner, the civil service can help to reverse this dynamic and build state legitimacy. However, the preconditions for civil service reform in such settings are among the most challenging imaginable.
The report analyses ethical management in Liberia using the “ethics infrastructure” framework developed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). It builds on insights gained in the course of 8 years of partnership with key Liberian state agencies and civil society organizations in setting out significant progress made to date and remaining obstacles.
The recommendations in this report are primarily addressed to the Government of Liberia and the leadership of the country’s civil service. However the report is also aimed at development and peacebuilding practitioners and policymakers, with a view to contributing to evolving understandings of how the rule of law can be promoted in support of peacebuilding and sustainable development in fragile settings.