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Accountability of International Organizations and of Transnational Corporations - A Comparative Analysis

 

Only 70 years ago the international legal order looked entirely different. States were by far the most relevant actors, international organizations were still in their infancy and globalization had not yet led to the increased relevance of transnational corporations and other private actors. In recent decades, however, international organizations and transnational corporations have grown in number and relevance, their impact on daily lives and politics has increased with this, as well as, at the same time, problems of their governance and discussions about their accountability. Both types of entities try to improve their accountability and the claim for more accountability exists for international organizations and for transnational corporations, within the entities themselves, in the public and in academia. Accountability has become a central pillar of good governance with regard to both. But what does “accountability” mean?

Accountability is a term often used, yet a term maybe understood at its core, but rarely agreed on when more concreteness is sought. Its principal components and legal dimension are still unclear, its use and understanding remains fragmented. This Ph.D. project seeks to carve out the understanding of accountability in two fields: accountability of international organizations on the one hand and accountability of transnational corporations on the other hand. With regard to both types of entities, accountability has become a crucial point of discussion for the past decades, fuelled not least by major scandals in both areas. But whereas the claim has been made in both fields and discussions thereon are taking place in both areas parallel and similarly, these discussions have hardly been brought together so far.

Therefore, this contribution seeks to fill that gap and examine to what extent the understanding of accountability, of its core components and frameworks overlap with regard to international organizations on the one hand and transnational corporations on the other hand. It shall thus be verified whether there is a common core or whether the prima facie existing similarities and the use of the same terms only pretend that there are parallels, but its understanding turns out to be entirely different. After examining and comparing specific international organizations and transnational corporations, parallels and differences are set out and explained, and receptions (who can learn what from whom) considered. Finally, an attempt of explaining core components of accountability, its legal dimension and the possible effects of these findings on the global governance debate shall be made.


Ph.D. candidate

Supervisor