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Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute

Karolina Olofsson

Thesis title

'Whose governance is it anyway? The cultural relativism of accountability'


My research looks at the prioritisation and development of accountability policies in transitional countries, particularly Afghanistan and Iraq. Due to their security status, these two countries have received large insertions of aid and their stabilisation strategies have included considerable state-building components.

The research analyses the relation between state-building and government accountability to see whether accountability policies have strengthened the state's capacity to be more responsive to citizens, increase state legitimacy and reduce violence. In particular the study aims to see whether the institutional pressure of 'good governance accountability' overburdens state institutions beyond their capacity and experience, and whether these initiatives have resulted in actual accountability practices.

Research interests

Institution building, good governance and public sector reform in post-conflict or fragile settings.

Relevant work experience

I specialise in institution and capacity building of fragile governments on legislative accountability, compliance with international law, fiscal transparency and civil society participation. I have worked on policy issues related to good governance with national institutions, donors, non-state actors, political missions and aid agencies in places such as Lebanon, Kosovo, Darfur and Afghanistan. Prior starting my PhD with HCRI, my professional experiences included working for Adam Smith International as a Transparency and Accountability Adviser for Ministry of Finance in Afghanistan and for Integrity Watch Afghanistan as their Director of Advocacy and Communications.

Previous education

  • MA in Conflict Management and Human Rights, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Pisa, Italy
  • MA in Post-War Reconstruction (Specialised in Political Reconstruction), University of York, UK
  • BA Hons Economics and Sociology, University of York, UK

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