Free «The Role of Government» Essay Sample

The word government refers to a sovereign state or civil government that can be either local, national or international. The role of the government is to provide an orderly society, at the same it should provide an enforceable set of moral and ethical values that control the functioning of the society. Within the laws of the government, the cultural moral values of any given society are outlined. To achieve this, the government must have well established codes of ethics in place. The main purpose of ethics is to help in making wise or right decisions. Some of the ethically challenging issues include: abortion, divorce and promiscuity among others (Smith, 2008).

The members of the society have a duty or are expected to conform to the societal values so as to contribute to a peaceful and orderly society. Hence, the set laws provide a standard measure for the people to use in deciding on how to act in a socially responsible manner. One is justified to disobey the law if: he or she has a strong assurance that the ethical values embedded within the law are in need of a reform, and one is ready to pay the consequences of acting illegally. In gauging whether a nation is making decisions that are socially responsible, the citizens are supposed to follow a higher standard than that specified by law, because the law defines the social norms.

Also the government ensures that all legal systems recognize, form, vary and enforce obligations. Obligations are fundamental to the social role of law and discussing them is necessary to an understanding of the law's authority and thus its nature. Not only obligations in the law exist, but there are also obligations to the law (Green, 2003). The principles that apply to government obligations like progressive implementation, monitoring, discrimination, minimum core content and obligations of conduct and outcome are discussed in the essay. Also, the roles of the government under social obligations, practical matters and the framework of the ethical decision making process are discussed.

Principals That Apply to Government Obligations

Progressive Implementation (non-retrogression)

According to the International law, a government is supposed to implement economic and social rights progressively. This means that the government is not supposed to accomplish all these rights immediately and at the same time. However, it must make progress in fulfilling these rights until they are absolutely guaranteed. Hence if a government takes no action to make sure economic and social rights are in place, then it has not met its responsibility. An instance where the government fails to meet its obligation, a case where children in public schools in pitiable neighborhoods are not provided with adequate education and the government does not take any step to better those schools. Another instance is when the government actually weakens protections for economic and social rights like dismantling entitlements or massively evicting people from public houses without providing corresponding or improved alternatives, this is actually a regression and a plain violation (NESRI, 2009).


Minimum Core Content

There is the least standard that the government must meet for each economic and social right of its individuals under the international law. Although the government is not compelled to fulfill all these rights completely at once and immediately, it is not supposed to allow conditions to fall less than a certain point of protection for these human rights. Situations like hunger and absolute lack of houses for some of its citizens violate this minimum. So as the government plans to ensure sufficient housing for all, it must start by addressing extreme situations like lack of any shelter.


It is the obligation of the government to keep an eye on whether economic human rights are protected or not. As an illustration, is the case where the government used to monitor how many citizens were parting the welfare rolls, but it never used to monitor the impact of welfare changes on the economic security and well-being of those families. In this case the government failed to meet its role to monitor the right to social security which includes resources to sustain a sufficient standard of living in the case of prolonged unemployment.


The government is not supposed to show any form of discrimination no matter at what level of protection it is giving human rights. Discrimination ranges from both the intended or planned acts that are discriminatory to situations where specific groups are in particular and disproportionately affected. Where there is discrimination, the government is supposed to level it out immediately.

Obligations of Conduct and outcome

The government is both accountable for its actions and any results out of the government action or inaction. For instance, if the government puts in place educational policies that are aimed at improving the education standards, instead this in reality results to lower educational outcomes for children form poor communities, the government must be held answerable under the human rights standards for such an outcome.

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The Roles of the Government under Social Obligations

The human rights standards include:


Human rights must be respected by all governments. Thus a government cannot get in the way with persons exercising their human rights. Examples on how a government can violate the duty to respect human rights include: when the school officials expel a student from a public school on illogical grounds such as pregnancy; when a government engages in mass evictions of residential public houses in the interests of national development without having adequate alternative housing for those residents; when a policy of the government denies access to essential medical services or drugs. In these cases, the government actions denied the individuals their human rights to education, health and housing (NESRI, 2009).



It is the obligation of the government to safeguard the human rights of her people. When a person, business or institution that is not part of the government mess up the exercise of human rights, the government must step in to protect those rights.


The government must make the conditions favorable for all the people to exercise their human rights. Example: everyone has the right to receive medical care, but still a lot people in many nations cannot afford health insurance and also do not meet the criteria for Medicaid. In this case it is the role of government to establish provisions that make private insurances reasonably priced or such for options like an inexpensive public insurance scheme that warrants universal quality care. Many governments, the US government inclusive, have failed act in order to meet this obligation to fulfill the right of their citizens to receive health care (Shepard, 2002).


Creating livable and sustainable societies is the basic purpose of the local government. That is the reason as to why planning at the local and regional level is such a seriously important part of the housing ministry. The local government struggles to promote housing development which: provides the selection of housing required by its communities, achieves the best practice in urban design, offers the best achievable quality of life and environment for all inhabitants, provides appropriate protection and development of heritage character and local and cultural identity and lastly that is ecologically sustainable (Bennson, 2005).


Currently, education is mostly paid for and almost entirely administered by governmental bodies or non-profit institutions. Provision of free primary education is one of the goals of Millennium Development Goals. This situation has developed steadily and has now taken so much for granted that modest explicit attention is any longer directed to the reasons for the special treatment of education even in countries that are primarily free venture in organization and philosophy. The result has been an indiscriminate expansion of the governmental responsibility.

Intellectual property

Generally, the role of the government of a nation is to ensure the well-being of its people and to promote the economic, social and cultural growth. The main function of intellectual property law, including copyright, is to motivate creativity and to protect and encourage investments and transfer of technology. As a result, it is one of the duties of the government to also ensure that the intellectual property system of the country serves its purposes. The role of the government is many-sided and it includes at least two vital aspects: the domestic application, in the sense that the government has to ensure that the copyright law provides sufficient protection to its authors and at the same time takes into account the balance against public and private interests; the relations between the country and the outside world, in this case the government has to ensure that its copyright system is such that the nation is acceptable in the global cultural and technology transfer activities.

Practical Matters

Some ethically challenging issues for any government include:


This is a very sensitive issue in every government or society. Despite the fact that abortion has been legalized by some governments, it does not mean that it is ethical. This can be justified if governments certainly consider the unborn child to be human, then abortion goes against the barrier rights of that unborn person in that it terminates his or her life (the right to live). It narrows down to establishing the stage at which a person becomes human. The majority of people agree that immediately a baby is born then he or she is human, even if it will take several years before full development is completed. Again if a human is considered as someone who has fully developed, then it is justifiable to kill people up to the age of 18, in addition to people who have deformities or other abnormalities.


It is legal in most governments despite the fact that it causes pain and suffering for the two people involved in addition to the children and other relatives. In this view it goes against the law of love, and is consequently not ethical. This further poses a question on the position of the government on other separation between humans which cause pain like church splits, the breakup of friendships and civil wars.

The actual issue is all about the nature of marriage; whether it is a lifetime commitment or not. One way to consider marriage is in terms of the sexual relationship that it is only right in the perspective of a lifetime commitment. It is observed that at any time people who are involved in a sexual relationship breakup, there is great pain involved. Thus, for any person who enters into such a relationship without wholly intending to have a lifelong relationship violates the law of love. But divorce is ethical in certain situations of abuse like where a partner beats another.

The Framework of Ethical Decision Making Process

Every government, society or person requires a well-thought-out framework that acts as a guide when making ethical and socially responsible decisions. Considering the critical process of making ethical decisions, the best approach to be used is a pragmatic or practical one, in which the chosen actions are not only ethically justified but at the same time effective in accomplishing the goals (Floria, 2005).

The first step in the decision making process requires one to consider a variety of short-term paybacks and the longer-term benefits. The choices of decisions made should be abandoned if they:

  • are illegal
  • Can't be implemented due to organizational inertia i.e. the tendency of organizations and people to resist change
  • Go against barrier rights.
    Some of the barrier rights that every person has include: the right to have freedom of choice in pursuing one's interests; and the right to physical security.
  • Violate the law of love i.e. decisions that are likely to cause disagreements among people.
  • Are too expensive in terms of human sacrifice i.e. decisions that can cost one's career.

Any choice that passes these five steps is ethically acceptable.


A government is a sovereign state or civil government that can be either local, national or international. The role of the government is to provide an orderly society; promote the economic, social and cultural growth; and at the same it should provide an enforceable set of moral and ethical values that control the functioning of the society. It is the responsibility of the government to ensure that the human rights are respected, fulfilled and protected.  Abortion and divorce are some of the challenging issues that are legalized by some governments in that they are justified as unethical when closely scrutinized. Every government, society or person requires a well-thought-out framework that guides one when making ethical and socially responsible decisions. Considering the critical process of making ethical decisions, a practical approach is best in order to achieve actions that are not only ethically justified but at the same time effective in accomplishing the goals.


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