In general, the concept of accountability refers to holding actors responsible for their actions considering standards of conduct and performance. In a human rights framework, these standards are drawn from so-called soft law and hard law, which include, among others, binding international treaty norms and declarations of international quasi-judicial bodies in adjudicating cases, as well as authoritative interpretations of relevant norms by treaty monitoring bodies, statements by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, and programs of action and declarations of international conferences. They also draw on national regulations, legislation, and constitutional frameworks.
However, to promote accountability in practice, it is not enough to determine standards in the abstract and establish enforcement mechanisms. It requires a dynamic process of clarifying the criteria for the application of the right to actors at different levels, from health care providers to policy makers, and acting together with these actors on the implications of their roles and responsibilities (UNITED NATIONS, 2006; GEORGE et al., 2010).
In a human rights framework, accountability combines elements of responsiveness, responsibility, and redress. Moreover, accountability is inherently relational-that is, there can be no human rights accountability if we do not specify «to whom»-and is therefore closely linked to the effective participation of people affected by health programs and policies (POTTS, 2008). In the context of health systems reform to meet maternal health needs, accountability encompasses financial, administrative, regulatory, political, and institutional aspects, as well as legal measures (UNITED NATIONS, 2006). As Amnesty International’s 2010 Report states, accountability «allows us to look forward» as well as backward (AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, 2010). An effective accountability framework serves as a basis for promoting systemic and institutional changes that create conditions in which women can enjoy their right to maternal health, and not simply to punish identified non-compliance.
Depending on the perspective from which a concept is viewed, there are different appreciations of where to focus on accountability, but what about accountability itself in our life journey? We all make, even mentally, at some point in our path, a balance of our lives and give an account before our God, before ourselves, before the Universe, everything we have lived, the actions taken, the mistakes made, in short, everything we have been able to do and not do in our path of life.
I invite you all to read Matías’ post with the topic of the day.