The leadership question: some thoughts from Jamaica’s Integrity Commission

When we are discussing a particularly intractable problem, and there seems to be no solution, no positive outcome – in fact, no outcome at all – we often scratch our heads and say: “Well, it’s a matter of leadership.” In other words, a lack of leadership. We cannot untangle the conundrum. We go round in circles. Something is missing.

On November 16, the Integrity Commission of Jamaica, led by the indomitable Executive Director Greg Christie, issued a press release, outlining what it considers to be the essential components of a good leader. If Twitter does go belly-up, I will certainly miss Mr. Christie’s wise and focused daily tweets each morning from @Greg0706.

The Commission is also urging our political leaders to subscribe to an official Code of Conduct Leadership Commitment. The press release came out the day after the Government’s announcement that the Office of the Political Ombudsman is to be abolished – in fact, the holder of that position has already stepped down, with no plans to replace her. Arguably, the position was never given any legal “teeth” in order to be effective. There are reports that it will be “subsumed” (somehow) into the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ). How would this work, since members of political parties sit on the ECJ? We wait to hear more from the government on this.

The Commission’s media release seems to have fallen on stony ground among some members of the public (who are deep in cynicism and disenchantment with their leaders) and ignored by the rest. I wonder how many politicians have seen it. Nevertheless, I myself am not so cynical that I don’t regard it as a valiant effort to refocus us all on the basics of good leadership and transparency. Who could disagree with the Commission’s stated “Seven Principles of Public Life”?

What do you think? Please read the below text…

Integrity Commission asks Prime Minister and Opposition Leader to formally sign Leadership Commitment to Code of Conduct

November 16, 2022: Jamaica’s Integrity Commission has formally written to the country’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Opposition Leader Mark Golding asking them to officially subscribe to a Code of Conduct Leadership Commitment.

The Prime Minister is being asked to commit himself and the Cabinet of the Government of Jamaica, and the Opposition Leader is being asked to commit himself and his Shadow Cabinet, to the Seven Principles of Public Life.

The request to both of the country’s leaders follows the Integrity Commission’s delivery of a comprehensive series of Anti-Corruption and Good Governance Workshops to the Prime Minister and his Cabinet, as well as to the Opposition Leader and his Shadow Cabinet.

Under cover of a joint letter to the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader, dated November 15, 2022, the Integrity Commission has sent to them formal copies of the proposed Leadership Commitment document which outlines the Seven Principles of Public Life.

The Commission’s letter, which was signed by its Executive Director, Greg Christie, states that the Commission is looking forward to a “timely and positive response” to its overture.

The Commission has also advised that similar commitments will be sought from the several Public Bodies and Officials to which it has been administering its Anti-Corruption and Good Governance Workshops.

The Seven Principles of Public Life, which the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader have been asked to sign, subscribe and commit to, are as follows:

  1. Selflessness
    Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or friends.
  2. Integrity
    Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to individuals or organisations that might seek to encourage improper behaviour in the performance of their official duties.
  3. Objectivity
    In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders of public office should make choices on merit.
  4. Accountability
    Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.
  5. Openness
    Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands.
  6. Honesty
    Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.
  7. Leadership
    Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.

The Integrity Commission is mandated and empowered by law to develop Codes of Conduct for Public Bodies and Public Officials. Section 6(1)(g) of the Integrity Commission Act states that it is a function of the Commission “to prepare Codes of Conduct and other advisory material related to corruption.”

Donna Parchment Brown, Political Ombudsman, stepped down this week and will not be replaced.

2 thoughts on “The leadership question: some thoughts from Jamaica’s Integrity Commission


    Not coincidentally, during first year of the Trump Administration, Rabbi Edward Schecter, in his High Holiday sermon, outlined some of the necessary characteristics of good leadership; that s/he not provoke anxiety, be self-actualized (which I interrupt to mean operating and championing causes without an ego) and is capable of changing his/her mind. From Orlando Patterson’s “The Confounding Island: Jamaica and the Postcolonial Predicament,” the reader can distill the critical importance of good leadership in the context of Jamaica. I’m getting closer to concluding that leadership, whether heinous or heroic, is usually at the heart of how things go. – Rachel Frankel


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