Mapping G8/G20 Accountability
Global governance is the reality of contemporary world; the G8 and G20 are indispensable institutions of the contemporary global governance; global governance institutions should be answerable for their actions (or inactions) (Scholte 2011). Hence
accountability processes should be inherent to global governance and can contribute to better governance.
In the global governance system the G8 and G20 stand out as powerful informal institutions, and much of the critique on their accountability deficit derives from the fact of their establishment and actions without a formal act of authorization. Another reason for the claim of the G8/G20 accountability gap is that the three components of accountability: standards for accountability, sanctions, information do not work properly (Grant and Keohane 2005). The G8 standards of accountability behaviour have got a longer and better track record than those of the G20, however, non availability of sanctions mechanism and lack of information/transparency, make demands for improving accountability fully valid. The G8/G20 summitry is a case of transnational accountability with two main sources for accountability: reputational and peer pressure. The G8 third source for accountability is shared norms and democratic values.
Nevertheless, both the G8 and G20 submit their performance to accountability mechanisms, though we can not speak of “an authorized or institutionalized accountability relationship when the requirement to report and the right to sanction, are mutually understood and accepted” (Keohane 2002). The leaders mandate their internal structures: ministers, experts groups, working groups to report of the progress made on decisions. The G20 leaders also request relevant international organizations to monitor and report publicly on G20 compliance with to their pledges. There are also examples of actors (NGOs, academic institutions, IOs) seeking to hold G8/G20 accountable on the normative justifications of the impact of their decisions on the societies and economies of their member states and global society, as well as international organizations. The claim is valid if we accept that “accountability is a condition and process whereby an actor answers for its conduct to those whom it affects” (Scholte 2011).
These considerations have underwritten the review of a flow of “accountability” reports made public in the G8/G20 process since 2008. By October 2013 their total number reached 206 for both institutions. The number of reports is growing rapidly, especially pertaining to the G20, thus 53 accountability reports were released from July 2012 to October 2013. The two main types of reports are those authorized by the G8/G20, or those self initiated by the actors seeking to hold them accountable. The authors have been broadly classified as G8/G20 structures, international institutions, academic institutions and NGOs. This chapter examines how these reports addressed the four accountability aspects of transparency, consultation, evaluation and correction (Scholte 2011). Several features of the reports were singled out as proxies for the respective qualities. Provision of the evidence base and data presented for each of the members rather than in an aggregated format enhance transparency, and hence served as a proxy for transparency. Recommendations provided by the author promote consultation, and thus were considered as a proxy for consultation. Scorings or ratings give clear signals of the evaluation results, and were regarded as proxies for evaluation quality. Each report was assessed against the set of these three functions with one score for transparency, one score for evaluation, and one score for consultation. As the correction is the prerogative of the affecting actors, reports were not assessed on this merit. Not all of the reports were formally positioned as accountability ones, but they
were still included into the analysis, if they contained elements of accountability.