Building democracy: Accountability, context and trust

In this video from the 2015 Annual Democracy Forum in Bern, Switzerland, Devex explores some of the many perspectives on what’s needed to strengthen democracy.

Accountability, new donor approaches and more attention to corporate social responsibility are all needed to strengthen democracy in today’s complex global development context.

Accountability is a multistakeholder endeavor, but the question of how donors can put accountability at the center of their operations requires looking at all dimensions of engagement, financing and programming.

“They have to take into account the national and local context,” said Massimo Tommasoli, International IDEA’s permanent observer to the United Nations. “They have to renounce some of their management control logic and consider that sometimes the unexpected achievement of results [can equate to] what they call with their own rhetoric, ‘ownership.’”

Embracing the whole spectrum of potential outcomes in democracy and accountability means facing citizens’ overwhelming lack of trust in institutions, and building programs around restoring that trust, added Marcin Galecki, head of the democratization department at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.

Trust, Deputy Secretary-General of the U.N. Jan Eliasson agreed, should be top priority for donors and organizations seeking to improve conditions for democracy. He explained that a lack of trust builds a “negative narrative [that has] much greater chance of spreading around the world.”

What do you think are the greatest obstacles facing democracy in the 21st century? Watch the video above for more insight from the 2015 Annual Democracy Forum held in Bern, Switzerland and then join the conversation by leaving a comment below.

Democracy Matters is a global conversation hosted by Devex, in partnership with International IDEA, to discuss accountability as a central element of deepening democracy. Visit the campaign site and join the conversation using #DemocracyMatters.

About the author

  • Molly Anders

    Molly Anders is a former U.K. correspondent for Devex. Based in London, she reports on development finance trends with a focus on British and European institutions. She is especially interested in evidence-based development and women’s economic empowerment, as well as innovative financing for the protection of migrants and refugees. Molly is a former Fulbright Scholar and studied Arabic in Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Morocco.

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