International summits and conferences bring together a variety of stakeholders including high-level government actors, to discuss and agree on resolutions to tackle global problems. However, the extent to which the resolutions are implemented varies. Likewise, the extent to which governments and other stakeholders can be held accountable for the commitments that they make at the conference or summit varies.
Implementation and enforcement of commitments may be improved by an effective framework for accountability that specifies clear targets for progress which can be monitored. The targets
usually have to be set at a global, regional and country level. Governments and other stakeholders are more likely to implement resolutions if support is provided by the implementation partners. Such support includes funding, training, technical assistance or further high-level meetings.
This rapid literature review examined the accountability mechanisms used by seven global summits or conferences: the United Nations Conference for Sustainable Development (2012), the World Health Organisation Ministerial Conference on Ending TB (2017), the Nuclear Security Summit (2016), World Conference on Indigenous People (2014), One Planet Summit (2017), the Montréal Protocol (1997), and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (2015). In addition, two other global agreements were reviewed: Sustainable Energy for All (2011) and the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework. There is no grey literature on this topic and the only articles in the academic, peer reviewed literature relate to examining the effectiveness of the Montréal Protocol. Therefore, the review relied on an assessment of the processes or frameworks for reporting and monitoring which are described in the conference or summit documents. Some of the documents were not up to date. Moreover, it was not clear whether the accountability framework was put in place at the start of the conference or summit or if it was adopted later.
The review of the accountability frameworks used in the aforementioned conferences, summits or global agreements ascertained the following findings:
- An organisational structure is necessary for implementing the resolutions or commitments. The organisational structure can be very complex and layered, such as the Ten Year Framework Programme which focuses on implementing the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (2012);
- Financial support may be necessary to incentivise implementation, especially for developing countries. The Montréal Protocol provided funding for developing countries to eliminate the use of ozone-depleting substances. Similarly, the Nuclear Security Summit provides financial support, technical assistance or training to help countries to dispose of hazardous material;
- Measurable targets must be set at global, regional and country-level;
- Targets and reporting can be disaggregated to reveal discrepancies according to age or sex. For example, such disaggregation is required for monitoring progress towards eliminating tuberculosis;
- Countries report their progress by providing a country report;
- Reporting progress and monitoring are best facilitated if there are other agreements, conventions or protocols that facilitate such reporting. For example, the WHO Conference on Ending TB utilises existing conventions that are already used for global reporting of tuberculosis infections or tuberculosis-related deaths;
- Monitoring and reporting tend to be more robust when there is a designated organisational body that manages the resolution. For example, the Secretariat for the Montréal Protocol, and
- The documentation relating to the Nuclear Security Summit and the One Planet Summit is not explicit with regard to which entity is responsible for monitoring implementation and