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Nations Charter, Preamble). These purposes change over time.  The World Bank was designed in 1946 to assist in postwar reconstruction, promote private foreign investment, and promote the growth of international trade; only a subordinate clause in its Articles of Agreement refers to “the encouragement of the development of productive facilities and resources in less developed countries.”  Its website now declares that “today's Bank has sharpened its focus on poverty reduction as the overarching goal of all its work.”12

Seven Accountability Mechanisms in World Politics

With the goal of restraining abuses of power in mind, we now proceed to describe seven accountability mechanisms that operate in world politics, providing illustrations of each.  These accountability mechanisms are summarized in Figure 1.13  Some operate most  effectively when standards of legitimacy are formally encoded in law; others enforce less formal norms.  Moreover, four of these mechanisms rely on delegation in certain respects: hierarchical, supervisory, fiscal and legal accountability.  The remaining three – market, peer and reputational accountability – involve forms of participation.

Hierarchical accountability is a characteristic of bureaucracies and of virtually any large organization.   Superiors can remove subordinates from office, constrain their tasks and room for discretion, and adjust their financial compensation.  Hierarchical accountability as we use the term applies to relationships within organizations, including multilateral organizations such as the United Nations or the World Bank.

12  International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Articles of Agreement, Article 1; website (http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/EXTABOUTUS/EXTARCHIVES) visited September 30, 2003.)

13 For earlier discussions of accountability mechanisms, see Keohane and Nye 2003 and Keohane 2003.  The latter article contains a table that is very similar to Figure 1 here, although Figure 1 omits electoral accountability, as not relevant to contemporary global institutions.   

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