How is accountability understood among different humanitarian actors?

Since the 1990s, western humanitarian organisations have increasingly been concerned with developing tools to assess the efficiency of aid delivery, and convincingly communicate organisational transparency and accountability to stakeholders.

A range of local and transnational civic actors are crucial providers of humanitarian assistance too. How do they understand accountability, and through what accountability mechanisms do they operate?

In their Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) paper “Broadening the Concept of Humanitarian Accountability”,  (Research Professor, PRIO) and  (Department Manager, PRIO) argue that we need to expand our understanding of humanitarian accountability in terms of “upwards” and “downwards” legal and moral dimensions to include the concept’s relational and contextual dimensions.

Do others agree? You can now also view a roundtable discussion ​where Anstorp and Horst briefly present their paper, after which Thomas Qviller (Senior Humanitarian Advisor, CARE) and Zeina Bali (Director of civic organisation, Masahat)  provide their comments and reflections. A debate on the topic is moderated by Marta Bivand Erdal (Research Director, PRIO).

Horst and Anstrop have also written a blog on this topic, which you can read here.