Global principles for global operators: why looking at accountability in relationships matters in achieving sustainability and effectiveness

Global principles for global operators: why looking at accountability in relationships matters in achieving sustainability and effectiveness

A framework for evaluating accountability across sectors

Global operators, whether corporate, intergovernmental or non-governmental, work in the same sphere and impact on the same people. In turn, they need to follow similar principles of accountability and can learn from each others’ practices. This opinion piece argues that there should be common principles of accountability policies and systems across sectors.  It suggests that One World Trust’s Global Accountability Framework offers a practical approach achieving this by working on the common challenges experienced in all sectors involved in global governance.

Specifically, the paper argues that this framework can provide an entry point into the questions about what governs the relationships between those who take decisions at a global scale, and those who are affected them. The framework breaks down the concept of accountability into four distinct dimensions:

  • transparency
  • participation
  • evaluation
  • complaints and response

When applying this framework to intergovernmental organizations, corporate and non-governmental organisations, the research reveals that:

  • while intergovernmental organisations were overall doing well in particular when it came to policy and systems for evaluating their work, their capacity to be transparent and respond to stakeholder complaints was much weaker
  • while international non-governmental organisations were on average strongest in terms of their policies and systems on participation of stakeholders, organisations in this category found it extremely hard to match the average performance of transnational corporations
  • both intergovernmental organisations and international NGOs failed to reach the demonstrated capacity for handling complaints that many transnational corporations have in place in result of a strong customer orientation of their work


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