Mehrpouya: Instituting a transnational accountability regime – The case of Sovereign Wealth Funds and “GAPP”

Abstract:

This paper analyses the development of a transnational accountability regime, – the Generally Accepted Principles and Practices (GAPP), introduced in 2008 for sovereign wealth funds. Facilitated by the International Monetary Fund, the regime aimed to improve the transparency, governance and accountability of these government-owned investment funds that originate primarily from the Middle East and Asia. I focus here on the struggles leading to the establishment of the boundaries of the GAPP accountability regime by diagnosing the accountability problem, determining the providers and the imagined users of the accounts and defining the appropriate course of action. I then analyse the struggles involved in negotiating the process and technologies used to establish the accountability relationship including the role of standards in accounting, audit and risk management, as well as transparency and compliance pressures. In each case I identify the different ideas or templates that emerged during the negotiations and how consensus was achieved through careful steering by a core coalition comprising the US Treasury and the largest, most legitimate funds. I highlight the need to go beyond typical fault lines in debates surrounding the origins of global governance regimes (e.g. local vs. global, western vs. non-western, core vs. peripheral) by focusing on emerging coalitions of local/global and western/non-western actors that increasingly drive such regimes. I show how the disproportionate representation of financial actors in such coalitions leads to less attention to questions of public accountability, and instead focusing such regimes on financial accountability. I further elaborate on the implications of the fall-back to transparency in transnational accountability regimes as a last resort and the types of resistance emerging against it.

 

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