Powerful international organisations need to be more accountable

In a comparative report on accountability, published in January 2003, a British think tank finds that IGOs and TNCs suffer from minority control by member states and investors, respectively. The study also concludes that NGOs provide less online information about their activities than IGOs and TNCs, and only very few of them publish an annual report with financial information.

Ahead of this year's World Economic Forum meeting in Davos and World Social Forum meeting in Porto Alegre (see alsoEURACTIV 21 January 2003), One World Trust, a major British think tank, published a pilot report comparing the accountability of 18 worldwide organisations, including inter-governmental organisations (IGOs), transnational corporations (TNCs) and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

The report provides an explanation of what accountability means and identifies eight core organisational dimensions crucial to fostering greater accountability. The study rates organisations' performance within these dimensions and provides recommendations on how to improve their accountability. Two dimensions are particularly in focus: member control of governance structures and access to information.

A clear conclusion of this study is that a minority of members exert real control over many of the organisations examined. This applies, in particular, to IGOs, including the World Bank and even the World Trade Organisation. Another important finding of the report is that international NGOs provide less online information about their activities than IGOs and TNCs, and that all of the groups limit access to information about their decision-making processes.

One World Trust is a think tank, based in the British Parliament, that promotes accountability in global institutions.


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