Integrity is everyone’s business, but what does integrity actually mean? Part I/II

Andrii Koshman

Recently I have successfully completed the Matra Rule of Law training on Integrity of Civil Servants and I would like to share the obtained knowledge for the sake of promoting the concept of integrity in Ukraine. Another reason why I need to do this is the fulfillment of my contract obligations in order to earn large sum of money. Wait a second, does it comply with the integrity of civil servant? Not at all. I am just kidding. To tell you the truth, managers of the program inspired all participants to be ambassadors of integrity policy in our countries and I am eager to do this pro bono work.

The Matra Rule of Law Training Programme is a two-year (2017 – 2018) programme designed to strengthen institutional capacity in the field of the Rule of Law within governmental organisations in the Western Balkans, Turkey, Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova – European Union pre-accession and European Union association agreement countries. The training is being provided by the Netherlands Helsinki Committee, Leiden Law School, The Hague Academy for Local Governance, and is financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. The aim of the training course is to demonstrate how the Dutch policy for integrity of civil servants is shaped and organised so that such illustrative example can help to make an insight in the importance of integrity for well-functioning, transparent governmental institutions.

During the intense training we enjoyed the opportunities of listening to lectures about the concept of integrity within the broader rule of law framework from professors of Leiden law school Leiden University. We also managed to comprehend integrity and the prevention of corruption policies in The Netherlands from the leading Dutch experts and learnt about practical tools to promote integrity during the interactive sessions and workshops with the integrity officers from governmental and municipal institutions. During our study visit to Brussel we were informed about the functions and performances of OLAF, the European Ombudsman and Transparency International EU in combating corruption and fraud within the European Union.

Thus, the training course was a real goldmine of knowledge for getting the understanding of the notion of integrity; its vision and basic elements; rules, procedures, values and standards for its implementation; monitoring and reporting process of its compliance, its enforcement.

To start with, I want to go down in the history and to draw attention to the etymology of the word integrity and ancient concept of this phenomenon, which are derived from ancient Rome and Greece.

The word integrity evolved from the Latin adjective integer, meaning whole or complete. Transferred to the moral sphere, in ancient Greece and Rome integrity signified freedom from moral corruption; innocence, the character of uncorrupted virtue; uprightness, honesty; sincerity. Flowing from these are the connotations that a person of integrity is honest, upright and devoid of duplicity, someone who displays consistency and strength of moral conviction, with a consequent resistance to acting against an internalized moral code.

It is crucially to stress that one of the most fundamental pillars of this ancient concept was the clear understanding that integrity precludes or obstructs corruption, and corruption undermines or casts a shadow on integrity.

This concept already exists for thousands of years and it is still relevant and indispensable. Isn't it phenomenal?

In my next post I would like to briefly tell about the Dutch integrity approach, to outline national institutional framework for integrity and will try to reinforce this theory by describing best Dutch practices.


Andrii Koshman is a chief consultant of the committee in Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. He is an expert in drafting amendments and supplements to the laws in the area of judiciary and status of judges, civil, administrative and commercial law. Previously he worked almost four years in the court. He had completed different training programmes in USA and countries of the EU.