The Proliferation of Independent Accountability Mechanisms in the Field of Development Finance

In the field of development finance, over the past two decades, several financing institutions have started acknowledging and addressing the local impact of the projects they support, by adopting a series of social and environmental policies and procedures. In some cases, following the example of the World Bank Inspection Panel, these institutions have also established independent internal bodies, which have the power of investigating policy compliance in relation to affected people’s complaints on specific projects, and thus create a direct accountability path between financing institutions and the ultimate beneficiaries of their activities. Over the years, these mechanisms (Independent Accountability Mechanisms) have evolved and proliferated, not only among international organizations, but also at the EU and national level, gradually coming to constitute a new and original model of review. In this paper we analyze the characteristics of these mechanisms, highlighting some of their strengths and weaknesses. We will also try to understand to what extent they resemble familiar forms of review of administrative action, and question whether they may constitute the affirmation of schemes and principles of an administrative law type at the global level.