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Centre for International Environmental Studies

Accountability of International Organizations

Timeline: 2019 - 2023 + Extension until August 2024
Keywords: international organisations, accountability
Funding Organisation: SNF



This project will seek to develop a broadly generalizable theory that places a spotlight, for the first time, on explaining the variable accountability of international organisations (IOs), and how institutional design and political action affect the scope of international accountability.

The theoretical framework will more specifically ask what features of international politics are likely to enable a greater number of accountability mechanisms to the broadest set of relevant accountability-holders. It will inform a comparative empirical analysis on the accountability of five IOs (ICRC, UNICEF, the World Bank, the IMF, and the WHO), selected according to the expected variation in their institutional structure and other explanatory variables. The scope of accountability of IOs will be measured, using innovative layering of methodologies from multiple social science disciplines, including analysis of historical archives and legal instruments, and inter-temporal and comparative analysis on who are the formal and informal accountability holders, and through what accountability mechanisms they access information, demand justification, or impose consequences.

The project aims to make substantial contributions to International Relations theories, the study and teaching of international institutions, and, importantly, to public policies and IO reforms.