Donor accountability in the UK

Working and discussion papers
December 2002

This paper outlines the formal and informal processes and mechanisms through which the UK government, and specifically the Department for International Development (DFID), accounts for and is held accountable for its international emergency humanitarian relief policies and programmes. As in all policy areas, different and overlapping forms of accountability apply at a variety of levels of policymaking, resource allocation, programming and service delivery. The discussion therefore starts by mapping out the main types of accountability: (1) political/strategic accountability at the macro policy level; (2) legal accountability; (3) managerial accountability; (4) financial accountability; and (5) contractual accountability for service delivery.

The paper also discusses supplementary accountability mechanisms, including the informal (largely domestic) scrutiny and influence exerted on DFID and the UK parliament by the media, NGOs and academia, and the new or evolving international accountability mechanisms created by DFID’s relationships with other stakeholders in the international humanitarian aid system, including other donors, UN agencies and Red Cross organisations and beneficiaries and institutions in the recipient countries.

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