Policymaker Accountability: International Focus

Éloi Laurent’s Measuring Tomorrow: Accounting for Well-Being, Resilience, and Sustainability in the Twenty-First Century (2018) provides a forward-looking analysis of what societies should measure, how these measures can be used to develop new policies, and includes case studies from around the world.

Judith Kelley’s Scorecard Diplomacy: Grading States to Influence Their Reputation and Behavior (2017) presents new research suggesting that in an international setting—and under the right conditions—countries can be motivated to action by appealing to their reputation. Grading countries on human trafficking—supported by practical assistance from government, expanded publicity, and indirect pressure from third parties—resulted in improved policies.

Save the Children’s “The Many Faces of Exclusion: End of Childhood Report 2018” dramatizes outcomes for children by ranking 175 countries based on when “childhood ends.” The rankings incorporate rates of early death, malnutrition, abbreviated education, entering the workforce, early marriage, early childbirth, or extreme violence.

UNICEF’s “Accountability for Children’s Rights” (2015) discusses different kinds of accountability, with a focus on “social accountability (people-led accountability initiatives)” and its potential to achieve results and equity for children.

United Nations’ “Sustainable Development Goals” is a set of 17 goals that have been adopted by nearly 200 countries and are designed to achieve shared outcomes related to economic development, health, and sustainability over a 30-year period. Nations are expected to meet more specific targets, which are stipulated under each goal. In many countries, state governments and philanthropy have directed policy and resources to support success toward meeting these goals. For example, under the broader goal of “Good health and well-being,” one of the target 2030 goals is to “reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births.” Despite uneven progress across countries and goals, the first half of the initiative has brought major successes.

UK Youth Parliament has provided opportunities for 11-18 year-olds to use their elected voice to bring about social change since 1999. Members of Youth Parliament take part in an annual debate in the House of Commons chamber, chaired by the Speaker of the House of Commons, and debate five issues chosen by a ballot of young people from across the UK. The youth then vote to decide which two issues should become the UK Youth Parliament’s priority campaigns for the year ahead.

WORLD Policy Analysis Center at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health focuses on laws, policies, and programs that countries have in place which are tied to positive outcomes for children (such as paid parental leave and free and compulsory primary education.) Rather than using numerical measures, this analysis uses policy metrics to analyze various countries’ performances and compares them to others. Anecdotal evidence suggests that this focus on rights and policies associated with better outcomes holds promise to help motivate action by certain governments.