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This post is also available in: فارسی (Persian)

Why this essential term must be redefined for an Iranian context

Though a key component of good governance, transparency is a term often used but rarely defined. Explaining what transparency means in Iran is even trickier, because the legal structure is specifically designed to shield certain people and institutions from public scrutiny. 

“Despite its importance and wide-ranging usage in political and economic reports, scholarly literature, international regulations and conventions, the concept of transparency is not always explained or defined in the related literature,” Small Media Foundation observes in its forthcoming report, “Transparency, Corruption and Accountability in Iran.”

According to Small Media Foundation, the most comprehensive definition of transparency is to be found in a 2007 document produced by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) entitled “What is Good Governance?” This report defines transparency in the following terms:

Transparency means that decisions taken, and their enforcement are done in a manner that follows rules and regulations. It also means that information is freely available and directly accessible to those who will be affected by such decisions and their enforcement. It also means that enough information is provided and that it is provided in easily understandable forms and media.

In some countries, however, the rules are intended to further obscure, rather than clarify, the facts. “In Iran, regulations and legislation more generally can also be untransparent or are themselves a source of ambiguity,” Small Media Foundation notes, citing recent scholarship.

Tehran Bureau therefore adopts Small Media Foundation’s modified definition, which takes the specifics of the Iranian example into account:

Transparency means that decisions taken, and their enforcement are done in a manner that follows rules and regulations, which themselves are clear and unambiguous. It also means that information is freely available and directly accessible to those who will be affected by such decisions and their enforcement. It also means that enough information is provided and that it is provided in easily understandable forms and media.

This post is also available in: فارسی (Persian)

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