appropriate standards of behavior – and to make that information widely available. The decentralization and diversity of world politics makes transparency easier to achieve than in previous generations, since the means of modern communication, and their diffusion across societies, give a wide variety of voices the capacity to express themselves (Florini 2003). Arguably, therefore, it may be more feasible to establish an effective information system for accountability in world politics, than to establish it in many national states – either in those with repressive governments or in those with uniformity of opinion on a set of important issues.
A prerequisite to improving accountability in world politics is to think about it clearly. Democratic theory raises two key questions about abuses of power and accountability: 1)what constitutes an abuse and why? and 2) who is entitled to hold power wielders accountable and why? The analysis of two competing democratic models makes clear that these questions do not have a single answer. Power wielders can be called to account for failing to fulfill their official duties or for failing to serve the interests of those affected by their actions. And they can be called to account by those who authorized them as well as by those affected by them. Both delegation and participation models are important: an effective accountability system should combine elements from both. But strict analogies from domestic democratic politics should be regarded with skepticism, and we should resist the temptation to narrow the issue of accountability to that of democratic control. Ingenuity in devising effective mechanisms, and the ability to synchronize their operation, will be more important for controlling abuses of power than a single-minded and mechanical application of the ideals of democracy.