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Chapter

Cover Contemporary Terrorism Studies

20. Counterterrorism Agencies and Their Work  

Martin Innes and Helen Innes

This chapter looks into the work of counterterrorism agencies. It also lists the key roles and responsibilities of military, intelligence, and criminal justice agencies alongside the policy frameworks that shape and structure counterterrorism interventions. The demands of political actors are supplied by counterterrorism strategies. Large-scale, multi-faceted government counterterrorism policies strive to manage the risk, stop support for terrorist motivations, and protect citizens and economic interests. Mapping the changes in the organization of counter-terrorism highlighted how issues of transparency, oversight, and accountability have become increasingly significant. The chapter then examines the ethical and practical dilemmas of counterterrorism that have to be navigated and negotiated.

Chapter

Cover Human Rights

Human Rights and the UN Sustainable Development Goals  

Inga T. Winkler and Matheus de Carvalho Hernandez

This chapter covers the relationship between human rights and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It starts with the history and development of the SDGs, which included the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The concept of sustainable development is based on the pillars of economic, environmental, and social development, which allowed the integration of human rights, climate change, and many other issues. The key challenges of SGDs revolve around the lack of ensuring accountability and addressing inequality, which made its significant potential to contribute to the realization of human rights. Finally, the chapter provides a case study of SDG's commitment to reducing inequalities.

Chapter

Cover UK Politics

13. The UK and the outside world  

This chapter starts by asking what are the things that a community regards as fundamental to the well-being of its citizens? They could be economic prosperity, security, or a stable environment. However, a state doesn’t exist in isolation. There is an outside world with which it has to interact with. This chapter explains how both the decisions that the UK takes about external policy and the way in which it takes them are subjects of intense interest and sometimes even controversy. They have consequences for the outside world as well as for the UK. These are two spheres that cannot be totally separated. An important question related to this discussion is: how far should external policy involve the self-interest of the UK? How far should we take into account our wider responsibilities as members of the global community? What powers can the UK wield internationally? To what extend is external policy subject to democratic accountability?

Chapter

Cover Exploring Parliament

14. Accountability in Parliament  

Mark Bennister and Phil Larkin

This chapter focuses on the accountability of the government to Parliament. One way to conceptualize the place of the UK Parliament in the accountability process is as part of a ‘chain of delegation’, whereby democratic authority lies in the hands of the citizens. Due to lack of time and expertise to participate actively in the day-to-day process of running the country, however, these citizens delegate much of this responsibility to a subset of their number who become parliamentarians. Parliamentarians in turn delegate much of this role to a further subset of their number who become the government. The chapter first considers accountability in the Westminster model before discussing recent reforms of accountability mechanisms and how they have increased Parliament's capacity to scrutinize government. Examples of the strengthening of the accountability function include stronger select committees, the use of urgent questions, and Liaison Committee sessions with the prime minister.

Chapter

Cover The Institutions of the European Union

10. The European Court of Auditors and the European Ombudsman:  

the EU’s ‘watchdogs’

Andreea Nǎstase and Christine Neuhold

Both the European Court of Auditors (ECA) and the European Ombudsman (EO) have been coined as European Union (EU) ‘watchdogs’. They have very different mandates: the Court audits the EU’s finances and the Ombudsman investigates complaints of maladministration by EU institutions and bodies. It might then come as a surprise that they have quite a lot in common. Their main EU institution of scrutiny is the European Commission, and they need to preserve their independence as oversight institutions. Neither has the power to impose sanctions on the institutions they investigate. Both the Court and the Ombudsman also cooperate with their national counterparts. In this chapter, we shed light on these EU ‘watchdogs’, which have thus far been under-researched. We do this by examining the key features of their institutional set-up and how they work. We also analyse how they have succeeded in interpreting their role beyond legal provisions and how they have dealt with crisis.

Chapter

Cover The Institutions of the European Union

15. European parties:  

a powerful caucus in the European Parliament and beyond

Tapio Raunio

The party system of the European Parliament (EP) has been dominated by the two main European party families: centre-right conservatives and Christian democrats, on the one hand, and centre-left social democrats on the other, which controlled the majority of the seats until the 2019 elections. In the early 1950s, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) decided to form party-political groups, instead of national blocs, to counterbalance the dominance of national interests in the Council. Over the decades, the shape of the EP party system has become more stable, and traditional levels of group cohesion and coalition formation have not really been affected by the rise of populism and the increasing politicization of European integration. National parties remain influential within party groups, not least through their control of candidate selection. Outside of the Parliament, Europarties—parties operating at the European level—influence both the broader development of integration and the choice of the Commission president.

Chapter

Cover The Institutions of the European Union

6. The European Parliament:  

powerful but fragmented

Ariadna Ripoll Servent and Olivier Costa

The European Parliament (EP) symbolizes many of the struggles that characterize the process of European integration and is at the core of many theoretical and empirical debates about representation, accountability, and legitimacy. This chapter draws on a variety of theoretical approaches to explain the complex role the EP plays in the political system of the European Union (EU). It starts with a brief overview of the history and functions of the assembly, followed by a theoretical explanation of its empowerment over time. Then, it determines the extent to which the EP is capable of influencing policymaking, both in legislative and non-legislative domains, as well as for the appointment of the Commission. It presents the political structure of the assembly and underlines the role of parliamentary groups and committees. It discusses the representativeness of the EP and the democratic quality of its internal functioning. Finally, it addresses current and future challenges for the EP.

Chapter

Cover The Globalization of World Politics

19. International law  

Christian Reus-Smit

This chapter examines debates surrounding the nature and efficacy of modern international law. It begins by discussing the reasons why international societies construct institutions, and why different sorts of institutions have emerged in different historical contexts. It then considers the nature and origins of the modern institution of international law, its relationship with the practice of multilateralism, and the recent cosmopolitanization of the global legal order. It also explores the laws of war and concludes with an overview of different theoretical approaches to international law such as realism, neoliberal institutionalism, and constructivism. Two case studies are presented: the first is about whether international law is an expression of Western dominance and the second is about individual criminal accountability in non-Western countries.

Chapter

Cover Exploring Parliament

17. Questioning the Government  

Stephen Bates, Peter Kerr, and Ruxandra Serban

This chapter examines how accountability is carried out in the UK Parliament through various questioning procedures which enable ministers and the government to explain and defend their decisions. Questioning the government provides an important means for Members of Parliament (MPs) and peers to hold the government, the prime minister, ministers, and departments to account. There are two main types of parliamentary questions: oral questions and written questions. Oral questions are both asked and answered on the Floor of the House of Commons or the House of Lords, whereas written questions are ‘often used to obtain detailed information about policies and statistics on the activities of government departments’. The chapter first explains these two types of parliamentary questions before discussing their purposes. It also considers debates over the issue of reforming parliamentary questions, and more specifcally Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs).

Chapter

Cover The Globalization of World Politics

19. International law  

Christian Reus-Smit

This chapter examines debates surrounding the nature and efficacy of modern international law. It begins by discussing the reasons why international societies construct institutions, and why different sorts of institutions have emerged in different historical contexts. It then considers the nature and origins of the modern institution of international law, its relationship with the practice of multilateralism, and the recent cosmopolitanization of the global legal order. It also explores the laws of war and concludes with an overview of different theoretical approaches to international law such as realism, neoliberal institutionalism, and constructivism. Two case studies are presented: the first is about whether international law is an expression of Western dominance and the second is about individual criminal accountability in non-Western countries. There is also an Opposing Opinions box that asks whether international law has any real effect on the nature and conduct of international relations.

Chapter

Cover The European Union

6. Democracy in the EU  

Richard Corbett and Daniel Kenealy

This chapter examines the democratic credentials of the EU. Beginning with a discussion of the idea of democracy beyond the state, it explores academic debates about whether the EU suffers a ‘democratic deficit’. The chapter evaluates the EU along various dimensions, including how powers are separated and divided within the EU, the extent to which executive accountability is established, and the various mechanisms of representation in the EU. It explores the nature of European elections, the role of European political parties, the role of national parliaments in EU policy-making and recent innovations in the way that the president of the European Commission is chosen. The chapter concludes with a discussion of fundamental rights, values, and the rule of the law in the EU with a particular focus on recent developments in Hungary and Poland.