Accountability is a
central piece of good governance. It enables the sharing of power (concept of checks and balance) and the public control over the use of public resources. It contributes to reducing the risk of power abuse and corruptive practices, which in turn is essential to ensure the fulfilment of peoples' basic human rights. Well-functioning accountability relations contribute to build trust in State institutions and processes of managing public affairs. This can be particularly important in situations of conflict.
Accountability describes the relation between state institutions and people, private sector affected by their decisions. It is about the obligation of state institutions, or any other authority with assigned public duties to inform the public, to explain, justify their decisions and actions (information, answerability). And it is about the right and responsibility of the citizens to access information, get explanations, to check, and to pass judgement on the conduct of those with public responsibilities.
This requires a political system, which ideally is providing space for citizen participation and consultation, an independent, pluralistic media, effective parliaments and independent oversight bodies. And it needs mechanisms for sanctioning misbehaviour (enforceability), e.g. with an independent, impartial and accessible justice system.
The SDC promotes a systemic perspective to accountability which includes vertical dimensions of accountability (state institutions being accountable to citizens, private sector) as well as horizontal dimensions (inter-state checks and balances). It applies to national as well as subnational levels, which need to be connected. A solid accountability architecture implies working with multiple actors and institutions (balanced support) and facilitating linkage building among them, for greater leverage of their claims.
This topic has been a ddlgn learning priority of 2015. During the face-to-face meeting in Mozambique network members developed joint understanding of the underlying concepts and theories and shared and reflected on own experiences and practices.
You can find resource documents on this page below, and more under the
During 2019-2020 SENAP Division, in coordination with the Governance network engaged in a Learning Journey on Development Effectiveness in Authoritarian Regimes. The main aim was to frame and deepen reflections on working in authoritarian contexts and increasing the effectiveness of development cooperation at both strategic and operational levels. This report is a synthesis of the framing used, it also gives insights in what other donors do and reflects main issues discussed during this learning journey.
Examples on social accountability: Kyrgyzstan
Social Auditing and Participatory Municipal Budgeting Experience
Social Accountability montoring in Tanzania
Social Audit and Public Hearings in Burundi
Worthwhile human stories
This topic sheet shows how Helvetas focuses its interventions on strengthening the direct accountability relationship between citizens and states, in order to improve access to and provision of public services.
This paper addresses a double democratic challenge: to strengthen formal and legal mechanisms that allow citizens to articulate and voice their policy concerns, and to encourage elected and non-elected representatives to effectively respond to the provision of public services.
The practice on social accountability reveals a number of critical lessons for urban governance reforms, particularly with a bottom-up approach. Lessons from these experiences have enormous potential to pursue changes in
the related policies and practices.
This paper is an attempt at gathering the learnings of the “Deepening Local Democratic Governance through Social Accountability in Asia” initiative that was implemented from
2011 to 2013 by PRIA in close collaboration with two
partners, PRIP Trust in Bangladesh and SILAKA in
This is the first chapter of a UNDP report on social accountability in the Arab world.
Today's greatest challenge is closing the so-called feedback loop – or accountability gap – between what citizens want and what the governments actually do. Working with both sides – citizens and governments – to provide incentives and information is crucial in supporting citizens having a more articulated voice, helping governments to listen, and assisting government agencies in acting upon the feedback they receive.
The Open Government Partnership is a multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. It was started in 2011 by 8 founding governments (Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, the Philippines, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States).