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Figure 1.  Seven Mechanisms of Accountability in World Politics

Mechanism

Accountability holder

Power-wielder

Cost to power-wielder

Examples

Hierarchical

Leaders of organization

Subordinate official

Loss of  career opportunities

Authority of UN Secretary-General

Supervisory

States

Multilateral organization and its executive head

Restraints on ability to act, loss of office

World Bank and IMF governance by their executive boards

Fiscal

Funding agencies

Funded agency

Budget restrictions

Withholding of UN dues

Legal

Courts

Individual official or agency

From restriction of authority to criminal penalties

International Criminal Court

Market

Equity and bond-holders, and consumers

Firm

Loss of access to, or higher cost of, capital

Refusal of capital markets to finance developing country governments during world financial crises

Peer

Peer organizations

Organizations and their leaders

Effects on network ties and therefore on others’ support

Independent marine certification body’s evaluation of the Greenpeace-Shell controversy

Public Reputational

Peers and diffuse public

Individual or agency

Diffuse effects on reputation, prestige, self-esteem

Effects on US “soft power” of unilateralism

*Reputational effects are involved in all issues of accountability, as mechanisms leading to punishment through hierarchy, supervision,  fiscal measures, legal action, the market, and peer responses.   The category of public reputational effects refers to situations where the other means of accountability are not available, but reputational effects are widely known and significant.

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