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Democratic accountability

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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 f2f blog.



Key documents: SDC

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Key documents: other

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  • https://www.shareweb.ch/site/DDLGN/Thumbnails/CompétencesMITIC.jpg

    Compétences MITIC à L'école

    La présente brochure se propose d’aider les responsables d’établissement, les enseignants et les autres spécialistes à relever tous ces défis.

    Key Reading Document
    Jeunes et médias
    2017
  • https://www.shareweb.ch/site/DDLGN/Thumbnails/SurveillanceandHR.jpg

    Surveillance and human rights - Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression

    In the present report, the Special Rapporteur identifies the problem of targeted surveillance seen from the obligations that human rights law imposes on States and companies. He then proposes a legal and policy framework for regulation, accountability and transparency within the private surveillance industry. He concludes with a call for tighter regulation of surveillance exports and restrictions on their use, as well as a call for an immediate moratorium on the global sale and transfer of the tools of the private surveillance industry until rigorous human rights safeguards are put in place to regulate such practices and guarantee that Governments and non-State actors use the tools in legitimate ways.

    Key Reading Document
    UN Human Rights Council
    2019
  • https://www.shareweb.ch/site/DDLGN/Thumbnails/FreedomandtheMedia.jpg

    Freedom and the Media: A Downward Spiral

    Key Findings: A) Freedom of the media has been deteriorating around the world over the past decade. B) In some of the most influential democracies in the world, populist leaders have overseen concerted attempts to throttle the independence of the media sector. C) While the threats to global media freedom are real and concerning in their own right, their impact on the state of democracy is what makes them truly dangerous. D) Experience has shown, however, that press freedom can rebound from even lengthy stints of repression when given the opportunity. The basic desire for democratic liberties, including access to honest and fact-based journalism, can never be extinguished.

    Key Reading Document
    Freedom House
    2019
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    Donor responses and tools for responding to shrinking space for civil society: a desk study

    This report summarises and analyses donor responses to the closure of civic space around the world. It is part of a wider effort within the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation to enable joint learning to support SDC offices in dealing with the growing challenges they encounter in restrained or shrinking spaces for civil society.

    Key Reading Document
    IDS for SDC
    2019
  • https://www.shareweb.ch/site/DDLGN/SiteAssets/Document_Type_images/Deza_PDF.png

    The Use of Theories of Change in Media and Governance Programmes

    The report reviews and analyses different models of Theorie of Change underlying Media and Governance programmes by SDC, Fondation Hirondelle and other international media support organisations. The report also provides an overview of academic empirical research on media effects in the field of governance in order to identify differences between Theories of Change used and the research evidence. Ultimately these analyses aim at a clearer understanding on how media support projects work and how they aim to achieve their objectives on various levels.

    Key Reading Document
    SDC and Institute of Applied Media Studies
    2019



Further reading documents

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 Further Reading Documents

  • https://www.shareweb.ch/site/DDLGN/Documents/HSI_TopicSheet_AccountabilityAtWork_GOP.jpg

    Accountability at work: Constructive engagements with citizens and states

    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.

    Further Reading Document
    Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation
    2015
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  • https://www.shareweb.ch/site/DDLGN/Documents/IDEA_Desk-Review-Study_Acc-Service-Delivery.jpg

    Democratic accountability and service delivery: A desk review

    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.

    Further Reading Document
    The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance
    2013
    Andrés Mejía Acosta, Anuradha Joshi, Graeme Ramshaw
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  • https://www.shareweb.ch/site/DDLGN/Documents/PRIA_PB-Institutionalisation-of-Social-Accountability-in-UG-(3).jpg

    Institutionalisation of social accountability in urban governance

    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.

    Further Reading Document
    Participatory Research in Asia PRIA
    2013
    Kaustuv Kanti Bandyopadhyay, Bhavita Vaishnava
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  • https://www.shareweb.ch/site/DDLGN/Documents/PRIA_S-ASIA_Social%20Accountiblity.jpg

    Social accountability in urban governance: Experiences from Asia

    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 Cambodia.

    Further Reading Document
    PRIA
    2013
    Bhavita Vaishnava, Kaustuv Kanti Bandyopadhyay
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  • https://www.shareweb.ch/site/DDLGN/Documents/Social_accountability_changing_region_Report_English_Gov_Week_Cairo_March_14.jpg

    Social accountability in a changing region - Actors and mechanisms

    This is the first chapter of a UNDP report on social accountability in the Arab world.

    Further Reading Document
    UNDP
    2014
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Links

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 Links

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    Global Partnership for Social Accountability

    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.

    Link
    World Bank
  • https://www.shareweb.ch/site/DDLGN/SiteAssets/Document_Type_images/Deza_Link.svg

    The Open Governance Partnership

    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).

    Link
    The Open Governance Partnership (OGP)