Think Piece

Mobilizing accountability: citizens, movements, and the state
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Photo: Unsplash

How do citizens ensure that their governments are more accountable to them? This question is at the center of many pro-accountability efforts across diverse contexts. External actors have invested significant resources in supporting citizen and civil society-led accountability approaches, often under the labels of ‘civil society advocacy’ and ‘social accountability’, with mixed results (see here and here).

Is there something missing from this equation? At a gathering of funders, researchers and civil society representatives last year to explore the big challenges and opportunities in the transparency and accountability field, many wondered ‘Where are the citizens? Where are the movements?’

History and experience have taught us that citizens must act collectively to ensure positive social changes. People’s organizations and movements work visibly or behind the scenes to push for rights, equality, inclusion, and governments that are accountable to their citizens. Funders and other external actors need to think much more carefully about how to engage with and strengthen these progressive efforts to ensure more accountable governance.

In a new Think Piece, Brendan Halloran (T/AI) and Walter Flores (CEGSS and COPASAH) re-examine the role of citizens, organizations and movements, and suggest ways to support these efforts.