Code of Ethics for Members of the Riigikogu – Why and How
In the light of the political scandals that have been lately discussed in the media, Transparency International Estonia has reached the conviction that it would be reasonable for the members of the Riigikogu to systematically discuss the ethics issues and to create a code of ethics or a code of conduct for the members of the Riigikogu.
Different sources and different authors have defined code of ethics differently, but generally it is considered a written document where the values, principles of conduct and acting, standards, bases for making decisions and rules for treating the partners are provided. Several associations – business and public sector organisations, non-governmental organisations, parliaments, societies, trades and their unions, etc. – establish codes of ethics for themselves. Organisations, associations and representatives of trades and professions have different approaches towards code of ethics, but generally a code of ethics highlights what is acceptable in a concrete organisation, what principles are followed in daily activities and what is the structure of the organisation like.
The existence of several positions and approaches may cause confusion and uncertainty in the members of the Riigikogu when they start creating a code of ethics. In order to avoid that, the article introduces the general characteristics and types of codes of ethics, brings out main points that should be focused on when preparing a code of ethics. The codes of ethics and codes of conduct of the parliaments of Europe are introduced briefly, and also answers to the most widespread arguments against such codes are presented. As some factions of the Riigikogu have wanted concrete proposals, the proposals of Transparency International Estonia regarding the contents of the code are brought at the end of the article.
I emphasize that our organisation does not proceed from the opinion that the Riigikogu mostly consists of unethical people or that it is a corrupt institution. The reason for the proposal is that establishing a code of conduct may be of use both to the members of the Riigikogu themselves and the Estonian political culture as a whole. Those who are interested may find information about the discussion that took place and the process of preparing the code in the relevant section of the Transparency International Estonia web page (http://transparency.ee/cm/node/585).