This paper provides an overview of the political uses and applications of the term accountability in contemporary discourses and practices of development. The first part reflects on the historical origins of competing narratives of accountability, and what it means for actors, and the processes in which the are embedded, to be accountable. The second section looks at tools, strategies and the processes of accountability in formal and informal arenas, assessing the role of law, protest and a variety of managerial approaches in the creation of mechanisms of accountability. The third section looks at how the narratives of accountability, manifested in these diverse practices of accountability, apply to key development actors, traditionally the nation-state, but increasingly also public authority at supra and sub-state levels and the private and non-governmental sectors.
IDS Working Paper No. 169, Brighton, UK; IDS, ISBN 1-85864-459-3, 36 pp. Available in English and Spanish.