The four presentations were all very interesting and well-conceived, raising important issues. It is my pleasure to congratulate the organizers of the conference for inviting these distinguished panelists to share their views with the other participants in the conference. At the same time I wish to thank the panelists for their contributions and express as my view that I learnt a lot of value from all of them. In my comments, I take the liberty of making a few comparisons with the situation in Finland in respect of the Åland Islands, the autonomy of which is often referred to as the oldest existing autonomy in the world. While this in itself may give justification for some comparative notes, it is, of course, necessary to recognize the differences in scale, history, and political context.
In the presentation of professor Gomes Canotilho, the topical issue of good governance was raised in a manner which immediately links the discussion to the global level of traveling concepts. However, I would like to start with the last sentence of his paper, where he says that “the legal system of Macau is, nowadays, a complex governance network”. This is certainly true and sounds, in fact, as something that professor Huang Jin proposed in his paper, namely a mechanism of interregional consultation, coordination and co-operation through a National Commission of Legal Consultation and Co-ordination. On the top of the national context, Macau is, of course, also immersed in the pool of global requirements and influences. It is therefore easy to agree with professor Gomes Canotilho that the mention in the Cotonou Agreement of good governance may focus too much on the central government of a country. However, with reference to article 25 of the U.N. Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a human rights provision which contains language relevant for good governance, it is possible to say that mechanisms of government should operate well also at the regional and local levels. Outside the Cotonou framework, good governance is not a legal notion, but instead a general term used in many areas, covering certain standards of governmental behaviour, of which inclusiveness is specifically mentioned in the paper (the other ones being competitiveness, anti-corruption and transparency). The questions against the background of inclusive-ness are the following: how is Macau represented in the NPC?; who speaks for Macau in the NPC?; how effective is that voice? The questions are important for such a remote possibility that the NPC would choose to enact a law after 2049 that abolishes the Basic Law or amends it to the detriment of the current position of Macau. From a human rights perspective it is, however, necessary to remember that good governance is a non-binding standard of best practice and that good governance should not be used as a pretext to disregard the requirements of binding human rights treaties.
KeywordsGood Governance Legal Order National Commission Veto Power Comparative Note
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