Paper presented at the Carnegie Council Fellows' Conference 2005. To access the full paper click on the "download" button at the bottom of the page.
Contemporary movements for the reform of global institutions have advocated greater transparency, greater democracy, and greater accountability. Of these three, accountability is the master value. Transparency is valuable as means to accountability: more transparent institutions reveal whether officials have performed their duties. Democracy is valuable as a mechanism of accountability: elections enable the people peacefully to remove officials who have not done what it is their responsibility to do. Accountability, it has been said, is the central issue of our time.
The focus of this paper is accountability in international development aid: that range of efforts sponsored by the worlds rich aimed at permanently bettering the conditions of the worlds poor. We begin by surveying some of the difficulties in international development work that have raised concerns that development agencies are not accountable enough for producing positive results in alleviating poverty. We then examine the concept of accountability, and survey the general state of accountability in development agencies. A high-altitude map of the main proposals for greater accountability in international development follows, and the paper concludes by exploring one specific proposal for increasing accountability in development aid.