Can International Institutions Change Government Behavior?

A headline in BBC News today reads, “International Criminal Court ‘altered behaviour’ – UN.” United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon was quoted saying, “In this new age of accountability, those who commit the worst of human crimes will be held responsible.”

These comments were made at the opening of a ‘stock-taking’ conference of ICC impact on justice for Victims opening today in Uganda. A discussion paper for the conference concludes that …

By engaging victims in trial proceedings, reparation programs, and outreach activities, the Court not only acknowledges and recognizes their suffering and losses, it also helps to make proceedings in The Hague more relevant to communities affected by mass violence. Indeed, if done in a meaningful and consultative way, formal recognition of victims, coupled with effective outreach programs, can help cultivate a sense of local ownership of ICC proceedings and lay the groundwork for greater acceptance of facts established by the Court’s judgments. Such efforts can also help reduce the likelihood of future conflict and strengthen a tenuous peace.

Importantly, the same most common victims of mass violence addressed by the ICC are those most affected my malaria – women and children. And the displacement experienced by these groups in fact heightens their risk of exposure to malaria. As has been reported from eastern DRC.

pbf3.jpgOne wonders whether international institutions like the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria has a similar impact on accountability. The mechanism for this potential impact is ‘Performance-Based Funding.’ According to the Global Fund …

Performance-based funding ensures that funding decisions are based on a transparent assessment of results against time-bound targets … Today, the performance-based funding model is used by a number of development organizations and initiatives (including the GAVI Alliance, the Millennium Challenge Account and the European Commission) as a way to ensure the accountability, efficiency and effectiveness of programs being funded.

GFATM grant reviews rate projects according to progress toward their own stated objectives. All this information is publicly available for scrutiny. The following examples where changes resulted from progress ratings are given by GFATM:

  • Mali,HIV (Rated B2): Procurement bottleneck identified; UNDP and UN provided technical support to build local capacity.
  • Ethiopia, Malaria (Rated B2): Government focused on problems and sought technical support from UNICEF; grant became A-rated and delivered ten million insecticide-treated bed nets to protect people from malaria.
  • Senegal, Malaria (Rated C): Grant stopped, Country Coordinating Mechanism reformed, civil society involved, and new grant signed which proved successful. Country benefited from clear performance evaluation, even with a C-rating.
  • Nigeria, HIV (Rated C): Grant stopped, rebuilt monitoring and evaluation system and new grant signed which proved successful. Country benefited from clear performance evaluation, even with a C-rating.

There are also examples where the accountability process resulted in grant suspension when financial improprieties were discovered, as happened in Uganda. A transparent, highly visible system of accountability is necessary, not only to preserve human rights generally, but also specifically to strengthen the right to basic health services including malaria control.

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