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date: 21 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter argues that, although accountability is a term well understood in constitutional law, it is not a central term of art within the discipline. It explores the public law origins of the term first in the limited sense of financial accountability to parliamentary bodies and, more generally, as machinery for holding public actors responsible for their actions, such as the doctrine of ministerial responsibility in common law constitutions. The chapter explores concepts that parallel or provide for accountability within constitutional law, notably the rule of law principle; separation of powers; judicial independence and constitutionalism. It looks at the spread of these ideas in the modern world, from Europe, where they are culturally embedded, to societies unfamiliar with them. Finally, the implications for accountability of the arrival of transnational courts and human rights regimes are briefly considered.

Keywords: Accountability, responsibility, rule of law, separation of powers, judicial independence, human rights, courts, constitutionalism

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