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Accountability and Abuses of Power in World Politics

Abstract

The problem of constraining abuses of power on the global level has been construed too narrowly.  Because contemporary analysts extrapolate from models of democratic accountability within states, they tend to see increased democratic participation as the only means of securing accountability globally.  We argue that participation is only one form of democratic accountability; democratic accountability is only one form of accountability; and accountability is only one of the ways that power can be constrained.  We begin by examining two models of democratic accountability – “participation” and “delegation”- and show why neither is directly applicable at the global level.  We then take a pragmatic approach, identifying seven types of accountability mechanisms and considering their applicability to states, NGO’s, multilateral organizations, multinational corporations, and transgovernmental networks.  By disaggregating the problem of global accountability in this way, we hope to identify opportunities for improving protections against abuses of power on the global level.

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