The topic of this years Civicus World Assembly is 'Accountability' and I've just been in a plenary session looking at Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and accountability.
During the session I was more and more aware that many of the ideas being explored were those I would understand as issues of participation – rather than accountability… and so I got scribbling trying to put together a model that helps me make sense of how Accountability and Participation relate to each other.
It's very much in draft (word version attached) – but the key intuitions are that:
Accountability and Participation are part of a broader process of democratisation
Accountability should be about the move from activity by CSOs that has the hallmarks of misconduct or bad practise – to activity that is at the least ethical and not harmful to the interests of those a CSO says it seeks to help
The move from ethical and non-harmful activity, to best-practise and effective activity, is a movement of participation and the tools of participation are those we should use here.
I suspect that we should be careful about 'concept creep' that overextends the concept of Accountability – as we may find ourselves taking our eyes off the key challenges in answering the linked questions (but questions that may have different answers…)
Who are CSOs accountable too?
Who should be the participants influencing and affecting CSO activity?
Attachment: Conceptual Framework.doc