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Can Social Accountability Rebuild Democracy From the Ground up?

Democracy is in retreat, as governments restrict civic and political freedoms to silence critics or hold on to power. Yet efforts to shrink civic space often fail: even through the pandemic, people have mobilized in ever greater numbers, finding new ways of organizing, through new alliances, online platforms and creative strategies. People continue to protest against corruption, elite collusion, and bad public services. How can mass discontent and a loss of political trust be reversed? There is no easy answer, but social accountability – or citizen-led efforts to hold governments accountable beyond the ballot box – offers some promise for rebuilding democracy from the ground up. This panel will examine the record of social accountability in building trust between citizens and their states, in a search for routes to more collaborative and people-centered forms of governance.


Moderator: Susan Abbott, Counterpart International 


Naomi Hossain, Research Professor at Accountability Research Center, American University  

Christian Arandel, Counterpart International  

Ehi Idakwo, Programs & Learning Manager, Accountability Lab, Nigeria 

Andrew Lavali, Executive Director, Institute for Governance Reform, Sierra Leone 

Maria Baron, Global Executive Director, Directorio Legislativo 


Nick Benequista, Sr. Director, Center for International Media Assistance   

Craig Hammer, Program Manager with the Development Data Group at the World Bank