Mapping G7/8 and G20 Accountability

The G8-G20 Relationship in Global Governance, Forthcoming

Posted: 22 Jul 2015

See all articles by Marina Larionova

Marina Larionova

Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA) - Center for Studies of International Institutions

Andrei Sakharov

National Research University Higher School of Economics

Date Written: September 2015


Global governance is the reality of the contemporary world. The Group of Seven (G7) and Group of Eight (G8) and the Group of 20 (G20) are indispensable institutions of contemporary global governance, and global governance institutions should be answerable for their actions (or inactions) (Scholte 2011a). Accountability processes should thus be inherent to global governance and can improve governance.

In the global governance system, the G7/8 and G20 stand out as powerful informal institutions, and much of the critique of their accountability deficit derives from the fact that they were established and act without any formal act of authorization. Another reason for the claim of the accountability gap is that the three components of accountability – namely, standards for accountability, sanctions, and information – do not work properly (Grant and Keohane 2005). The G7/8’s standards of accountability behaviour have a longer and better track record than those of the G20; however, the lack of a sanction mechanism and the lack of information or transparency make demands for improving accountability fully valid. Instead, G7/G8/G20 summitry is a case of transnational accountability with two main sources for accountability: reputational and peer pressure. For the G7/8, a third source of accountability is shared norms and democratic values.

Nevertheless, both the G7/8 and the G20 submit their performance to accountability mechanisms, although there is no ‘authorized or institutionalized accountability relationship when the requirement to report, and the right to sanction, are mutually understood and accepted’ (Keohane 2002, 12). The leaders mandate their internal structures in the form of ministerial meetings, experts groups, and working groups to report on the progress made on decisions. G20 leaders also ask relevant international organizations to monitor and report publicly on G20 compliance with their pledges. There are also examples of actors (such as nongovernmental organizations [NGOs], academic institutions, or international organizations) seeking to hold the G7/8 and G20 accountable on the normative justifications of the impact of their decisions on the societies and economies of their member states and global society. Such a claim is valid if ‘accountability is a condition and process whereby an actor answers for its conduct to those whom it affects’ (Scholte 2011b, 16).

These considerations have underwritten this review of a flow of ‘accountability’ reports made public in the G8/G20 process between 2008 and 2013. By October 2013 a total of 206 such reports had been published for both institutions. That number grew rapidly, especially pertaining to the G20, with 53 accountability reports released between July 2012 and October 2013 alone. The two main types of reports were those authorized by the G7/8 or G20 and those initiated by actors seeking to hold them accountable. Report authors can be classified broadly as G7/G8/G20 structures, international institutions, academic institutions, and NGOs.

This chapter examines how these reports addressed the four accountability aspects of transparency, consultation, evaluation, and correction (see Scholte 2011a). Several features of the reports were used as indicators of these four qualities. The provision of an evidence base and data for each of the members individually, rather than in an aggregated form, enhances transparency, and hence illustrates the quality of transparency. Recommendations provided by the report’s authors to the G8/G20 promote consultation. Scorings or ratings give clear signals of the evaluation results, and were regarded as indications of evaluation. Each report was assessed against these three functions, with one score for transparency, one score for evaluation, and one score for consultation. As the fourth quality of correction is the prerogative of the actors affected – namely the G8 and G20 – the reports could not be assessed on this aspect of accountability. Documents were included in the analysis if they contained elements of accountability, even if they were not formally positioned as accountability reports.

Keywords: G7/8, G20, global governance, accountability

JEL Classification: F5

Suggested Citation

Larionova, Marina and Sakharov, Andrei, Mapping G7/8 and G20 Accountability (September 2015). The G8-G20 Relationship in Global Governance, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Marina Larionova (Contact Author)

Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA) - Center for Studies of International Institutions ( email )

Andrei Sakharov

National Research University Higher School of Economics ( email )

Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, Moscow 119017

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