The Quest for Government Accountability and Rule of Law: Conflicting Strategies of State and Civil Society in Cambodia and Serbia

  • Danilo Vuković
Original Paper


This article deals with the social accountability activities of civil society organizations in Serbia and Cambodia. In both countries, they emerged with the conceptual and financial support of international development agencies; yet, the outputs were mediated by the social and political contexts. Still, these activities have some joint features: they (1) boost both understanding and awareness rather than solely mobilizing social interests; (2) target the interests of individual citizens rather than the interests of social-based groups or classes; (3) promote state cooperation instead of confrontation and (3) insist on the use of technical policy-related tools and mechanisms instead of political mobilization. The social accountability initiatives analyzed here have followed a policy-not-politics or depoliticized approach. As a consequence, they were ineffective in mobilizing citizens and social groups in a manner that would efficiently demand more accountability. On the other hand, governments contested civil society and appropriated its accountability discourses and strategies in an effort that can be read as an attempt to resist imposing government accountability and rule of law and pacifying present and future civic activism.


Civil society Social accountability Government accountability Depoliticization Cambodia Serbia 



The research has been supported by the Asian Foundation (TAF) and the London School of Economics and Political Sciences (LSE) within the framework of the LSE Justice and Security Research Program. As a TAF & LSE Research Fellow, I conducted research on SA in Cambodia—during 2014 and 2015—with Professor Dr. Marija Babović. The first set of results from the research was published in Babović and Vuković 2014. The research carried out in Serbia and its subsequent results were published in Vuković 2015. This research and this article were prepared at the University of the Belgrade Faculty of Law under the framework of the project: “Identity Transformation of Contemporary Serbia.”

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© International Society for Third-Sector Research and The Johns Hopkins University 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of LawUniversity of BelgradeBelgradeSerbia

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