Integrity requires a broader approach than just legal

Integrity requires a broader approach than just legal. The Dutch Raad van State, thus the Advisory Division of the Council of State, advocates to define integrity in a much broader sense. The Council argues that integrity issues are often handled too legally, while not all integrity issues – such as attitudes, manners and (private) behavior – can be regulated legally. Amen to that. The Integrity Talks is all about that reality indeed. The focus must therefore also be on sustaining agenda-setting and making the theme a subject for discussion, to talk about what is and what is not possible.

The information was published at the request of the government, which wanted to know whether setting up (internal or external) mechanisms for supervision and enforcing the code of conduct for ministers fits within the current constitutional boundaries. The Council of State states that this is the case with an internal council. The Board can conduct research and provide advice to ministers within the framework of ministerial responsibility. But the internal character of such a college also imposes limitations. For example, it cannot handle complaints from third parties.

In any case, for an external body that can impose sanctions, the Constitution must be amended. The reason is that in that case, the autonomy of parliament would be thwarted to pass judgment on a minister. However, when incidents occur, external investigations could be carried out. According to the department, this can even contribute to the confidence that the government handles integrity issues carefully.

Meanwhile, more and more cases of integrity breaches pop up, as people dare to speak out, including in the governmenal world. For example, the municipality of The Hague has measured a rise of 50% of cases due to people are starting to stand up for themselves. More on this (Dutch) story via Dagblad 070.

Source: the Raad van State (Dutch).