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Forum for the Future of Aid

Southern Voices for Change in the International Aid System Project

The Forum on the Future of Aid is an online community dedicated to research and opinions about how the international aid system currently works and where it should go next

organised by ODI

Accountability in Aid Effectiveness


This article takes critical look at accountability, and looks at this in a number of key arenas: accountability of international financial institutions and donors; accountability of governments and CSOs; and accountability among CSOs. It then raises the following questions for further discussion;

1. How can Southern governments and civil society hold Northern governments accountable within the commitments of the Paris Declaration?

2. Do Northern CSOs transmit their own “conditionalities” in their aid relationships with Southern CSO counterparts, while critiquing donor practices in this regard? Is it possible for North-North tensions about where to focus resources to be exported to the South as they experience difficulties in finding Southern partners?

3. Considering that Sector-wide approaches and budget support are becoming very important modalities for channeling aid, how can CSOs ensure that increased donors’ influence over Southern governments and on national policy-making processes remains accountable to the citizenry? and Is their any accountability-checks and dialogue space left for civil society contribution to shape policies as well as offer alternative development models?

4. Critically discuss the North to -South CSOs funding mechanisms and power relations within the context of ensuring mutual accountability?

5. From the content perspective, what do we understand exactly by the term accountability? The right to demand accountability? How can we best promote it within the aid effectiveness agenda? Who assumes what responsibility? Where do we draw the line between (economic) policy interference on the one hand and ineffective or even counterproductive support for incompetent or dictatorial regimes on the other? To what extent should the state provide an account of its actions, and consult citizens prior to taking action in order to enforce rights and responsibilities. Focus on here on three aspects:
a) technical aspects. i.e. information and statistical data- the system for collection and dissemination; type of information shared ( who can use it and how critical is it is to people making demands for accountability ?), administrative competencies etc.
b) political aspects (i.e. Is there guarantee of ownership and participation? Accountability within government, parliamentary control of the executive; scope for civil society action, promotion of citizen-led accountability initiatives etc.)
c) economic aspects (e.g. framework conditions for private investment; taxation system; fiscal discipline; trade liberalisation etc.).

6. From the formal sense, what is the purpose of accountability within the aid effectiveness agenda?), there are basically two aspects to consider:
a) Institutions (e.g. civil society autonomy and freedom of operation, an independent judicial system, functional government departments e.g. Auditor General’s office, parliamentary responsibility for the budget, legal framework for freedom of the media etc.)
b) Government behaviour (e.g. government programme, concrete policies, corruption, exemption from punishment etc.)

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