In our terms, there is some peer accountability within transgovernmental networks, since the entities involved may demand information from one another and sanction other entities for perceived misbehavior. But there are no clear mechanisms of accountability, because accountability requires that there is a public standard of legitimacy to which political actors are held. On the other hand, there is the potential here for negotiation constraints. The power of an entity in the network may be checked insofar as abuses are against the interests or principles of the other entities within the transgovernmental networks. Diversity among the parties is a precondition for constraint; without it, collusion is the more likely possibility.
Finally, what about constraining abuses of power by states? States vary a great deal in their susceptibility to accountability mechanisms, so we consider separately three categories of states: 1) weak, dependent states, such as those poor countries that rely heavily on foreign aid for budget support; 2) independent states that are not great powers; and 3) great powers, particularly hegemonic states. With respect to the latter two categories, it is important to distinguish between autocracies and democracies.
Weak and dependent states may be subject to fiscal and supervisory accountability, often through international organizations such as the IMF, World Bank, or WTO. To defy the powerful states that largely control these organizations may risk severe sanctions. Even weak states often succeed at evading the mandates of the World Bank and IMF; but the overall structure of power guarantees a substantial measure of accountability.18
18 For a discussion of accountability on environmental issues, see Fox and Brown 1998.