Guarding the guards: Pluralist accountability for human rights violations by international organisations.

in: Review of International Studies 45(1), 2019, pp. 20-38.

Human rights violations committed by international organisations (IOs) have raised demands that IOs should be held accountable for their decisions, policies, and actions. However, traditional forms of accountability have often failed in the context of global governance. This article introduces pluralist accountability as a form of accountability whereby third parties hold IOs and their implementing partners accountable for human rights violations. In pluralist accountability, third parties set the standards for IOs’ actions in relation to human rights, review their behaviour and impose normative or material sanctions in case of misbehaviour. The article further reveals two conditions that foster the development of pluralist accountability, namely the competition among third parties and the degree of vulnerability of the implementing actors or the mandating authority with regard to human rights demands. This argument is illustrated with empirical insights from peace operations in Bosnia and Kosovo, which were accused of human trafficking and the violation of the rights of detainees.