considering powerful entities that are structured quite differently from multilateral organizations – multinational corporations, NGO’s, transnational organizations, and states? How should we think about global accountability when there is no global democracy? Accountability mechanisms in world politics are not limited to those that are emphasized in participatory models of democracy, and even these mechanisms should be viewed, not in isolation, but in the context of other constraints on the abuse of power.
We begin our analysis by presenting two general models of accountability, one based on participation and the other on delegation. Although both models are consistent with electoral accountability in modern democracies, they rely on very different justifications and employ very different mechanisms to ensure that rulers behave in accordance with standards of legitimacy. In the next section, we point out the weaknesses of any direct analogy between these models, developed in domestic politics, and situations facing people seeking to increase accountability at the global level. The third section identifies seven accountability mechanisms that operate in different areas of world politics. Some of these mechanisms share conceptual common ground with delegation approaches to accountability, others with participatory approaches, though they are not necessarily democratic in any meaningful sense. Our hope is that the analysis of the models will allow us to demonstrate both why applying domestic democratic standards of accountability to global institutions is bound to fail and also how a clearer understanding of the conceptual justification for accountability mechanisms can open possibilities for improved accountability at the global level.