April 9, 2024

Reporting Accountability April 2024

Highlights of recent publications from independent accountability mechanisms, development finance banks, and institutions and civil society organizations working in the field of accountability


Welcome to the April 2024 round-up of accountability knowledge products. In this issue, we highlight two “trackers” that allow accountability practitioners to interact with up-to-date data on development finance investments. We also cover reports that consider human rights in development, a handbook on social impact assessment and a paper that provides pointers on how to interpret government responses to accountability advocacy. We’re also delighted to welcome a new bi-annual series focused on dispute resolution in accountability from our friends at the Independent Accountability Mechanism (MICI) of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). Happy browsing!


Business and human rights: elements of international law

Business and Human Rights
The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (2011) have played a key role in the evolution of responsibility for human rights. Previously an exclusively state obligation, human rights are increasingly the concern of business. In this publication, Robert McCorquodale, Member of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, provides an accessible overview of the impact of business and human rights law on international law. Using case studies, McCorquodale traces the development of the field from the early protection of businesses by states to businesses being held accountable for adverse human rights impacts.


Access to remedy in cases of business-related human rights abuse

UNOHCR Access to Remedy
An interpretive guide from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) seeks to ground efforts to provide remedies for business-related human rights abuses in the UN Guiding Principles. The publication thus begins with an overview of the UN Guiding Principles, and links Pillar III on access to remedy to the OHCHR Accountability and Remedy Project. The following sections draw on a decade of project experience and other resources to clarify key concepts and address the foundational principle of access to remedy, before moving on to the specific roles of state-based judicial mechanisms, state-based non-judicial grievance mechanisms, and non-state-based grievance mechanisms (including independent accountability mechanisms). The final section presents effectiveness criteria for non-judicial grievance mechanisms.

The guide offers an accessible “FAQ” format of questions and answers grouped according to the principle they refer to, and represents an extremely useful resource for anyone seeking to understand the UN Guiding Principles.


Handbook of Social Impact Assessment and Management

Social Impact Assessment and Management
Social impact assessment (SIA) is the process of analyzing, monitoring, and managing the social consequences of planned interventions, including development projects. Part of the Research Handbooks on Impact Assessment series, this Handbook edited by Frank Vanclay and Ana Maria Esteves presents a state-of-the-art discussion of SIA, drawing on the experience of practitioners from around the world.

There has been strong growth in the sector, with SIA now an integral part of how the private and public sectors, including international financial institutions (IFIs), approve and implement development projects. But outstanding issues include major gaps in national legislation, a lack of coordination between regulatory agencies, and challenges related to practitioner qualification. On the other hand, there is a much better understanding of good practice, and this handbook uses examples across development sectors (e.g. hydropower, transport, mining, agriculture), project phases, and inclusion of different stakeholder groups (e.g. project-affected communities) to illustrate the learnings accumulated over the last half century. The handbook also provides a comprehensive commentary on core concepts in SIA, including human rights; gender, intersectionality, and indigenous rights; cultural heritage; benefit-sharing; and stakeholder engagement, with a final section that covers methodological tools and approaches for practitioners undertaking social assessments.


Disentangling government responses: how do we know when accountability work is gaining traction?

As challenging as it may be to mobilize communities and resource civil society to advocate for accountability, whether in relation to a local project or public financing in general, this is only the precursor to the often intractable process of generating a productive and sustainable response from government. This working paper from the International Budget Partnership draws on the Strengthening Public Accountability with Results and Knowledge (SPARK) program to provide a framework for accountability advocates and practitioners to “disentangle” government responses to their strategies and decide on next steps.

The paper groups government responses into overlapping categories of “responses,” “responsiveness,” and “accountable responsiveness,” and charts the progress through the public financial management system of these responses. In so doing, the paper offers insights into the tracing and unblocking of bottlenecks to accountability, including through reforms that make fiscal governance more open to citizen engagement. This framework incorporates stakeholder mapping that informs adjustments to advocacy strategies. Monitoring, evaluating, and learning is also considered, as a key component of the accountability field.


Development Bank Investment Tracker (DeBIT)

The first of two trackers covered in this round-up, the Development Bank Investment Tracker (DeBIT) was developed by Inclusive Development International and the University of Chicago Data Science Institute. It collects data on over 250,000 projects and companies funded by 17 financial institutions, and the tool consists of a searchable database as well as macro-data on complaints filed against these projects with independent accountability mechanisms (IAMs).

According to Dustin Roasa, research director at Inclusive Development International, “DeBIT is designed to help advocates and communities harmed by development projects access remedy and promote greater transparency in development finance. This is especially important as IFIs, led by the IFC, increasingly lend money through third-party commercial banks and investment funds. DeBIT helps advocates follow this money through complex, multi-layered transactions.”

The DeBIT tool is part of an open source initiative at the Data Science Institute and will automatically update every transaction carried out by the 17 IFIs with accountability mechanisms that are covered by the database.


Energy Finance Tracker

Energy Finance Tracker
The International Accountability Project’s Early Warning System Energy Finance Tracker is an interactive database that presents project-level information on investments in energy. The Energy Finance Tracker centralizes information on proposed energy investments funded by IFIs, allowing users to view financing trends by region, development bank, investment amount, risk rating, energy sector, linkage to fossil fuels, and  recipient of the funds.

A recent report on the tracker draws on data from January 2022 to January 2024, finding that governments and companies continue to rely on IFIs to support their investments in fossil fuels—and that IFIs themselves are increasingly dependent on private finance for energy projects. This, according to the report, has serious implications for transparency and accountability. The continued support for fossil-fuel led infrastructure undermines the energy transition, and even so-called solutions in the form of renewable energy projects (often large-scale solar, wind, and hydropower projects) are not always in the interest of communities and workers. The report concludes with recommendations for IFIs for a community-led and just transition.


Integrating human rights into development law, policy and practice (fourth edition)

Integrating Human Rights into Development
This comprehensive review of donor and partner approaches to integrating human rights in development policies was originally published in 2006, based on a study commissioned by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development Development Assistance Committee Network on Governance (GOVNET). The 2024 edition reviews current practice, addressing new opportunities and challenges—including the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and the climate emergency.

Revisiting the rationale for integrating human rights into development, the report also reviews the approaches and policies of major IFIs, bilateral and emerging donors, and United Nations institutions. Case studies are used to illustrate sector-specific and thematic programs in, for example, women’s rights and environmental rights. Lessons are drawn from this extensive survey that delve into the root causes of poverty, power relations, and holistic and integrated approaches.


Accountability through dispute resolution

Accountability through Dispute Resolution
The dispute resolution functions of IAMs are critical collaborative tools in improving the sustainability of IFI-funded development, providing a space to find solutions for communities that have raised concerns regarding impacts of projects. The first issue (March 2024) of Accountability through Dispute Resolution positions itself as a platform for ongoing discussions about dispute resolution, both for the dispute resolution community of practice and the wider public.

The current issue features contributions from two IAMs, the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) of the International Finance Corporation and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, and the Independent Accountability Mechanism (MICI) of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group. The CAO presents its recently developed Conflict Analysis Tool, which assists in stakeholder mapping, analysis of local context, identification and research into the conflicts in question, and scenario building for possible modes for parties to try and settle the conflicts. MICI presents its findings on recurring factors in seven cases between 2017 and 2023 that did not result in dialogue, including low trust levels between parties, parallel processes, lack of willingness, high levels of frustration, and a limited timeframe to reach agreement.


Accountability + For project-level documentation and analysis of investments made by the 16 most influential development banks, check out the Early Warning System (EWS), a database driven by civil society organizations.


We keep our eyes and ears open for news in the field of accountability, but we need your help to make sure we don’t miss anything important. Please write to us about any forthcoming publications at

Share this article: