Beate Kohler-Koch, Peter Kotzian
Holding International Governance to Account: Do Civil Society Organizations Have a Chance to Exert Accountability?

Journal of International Organizations Studies (JIOS), 2015: 6, issue 2, pp. 5-25
ISSN: 2191-2556 (print); 2191-2564 (online)

In a growing number of domains, international organizations shape the daily life of citizens, but how can citizens make sure that decisions are made in their interest? Civil society organiza- tions have come into focus as intermediaries holding international organizations accountable. Accountability is widely considered to be a key element in international good governance, making sure an international organization carries out its mission to the best advantage of all stakeholders. This paper explores whether the necessary prerequisites for exerting account- ability are met: Do international organizations provide the necessary information and are they open to evaluations and dialogue so that civil society organizations may review their activities and pass judgment? Our findings are based on an empirical survey comparing twenty-eight international organizations and twenty-one directorates-general of the EU. The results are mixed. While international organizations and the EU are in principle and in practice ready to provide information, to undergo evaluations, and to engage in dialogue, the overall constella- tion is frequently such that an effective review of their activities is difficult.