Strong accountability principles and practices are essential for civil society organisations’ legitimacy, the quality of our work and to maintain the trust we depend on.
Our Accountability Commitments are at the core of what we regard as good practice in CSO accountability and form the value basis of Accountable Now. All Members have signed these 12 Accountability Commitments and seek to respect and promote them.
Accountable Now initially had ten commitments as a voluntary code of conduct. These were initiated in 2005 by 11 international CSOs. In 2008, Accountable Now (previously INGO Accountability Charter) was founded as an organisation to assure compliance and to further improve international civil society standards. In 2014, the Commitments were fully revised by a working group of Accountable Now Member Organisations. In June 2017, Accountable Now’s Members unanimously agreed to adopt the 12 Accountability Commitments of the Global Standard for CSO Accountability to replace the Charter commitments, thus aligning with eight other CSO accountability networks around the world.
The Purpose of the 12 Accountability Commitments
The 12 Accountability Commitments outline our common commitment to transparency and accountability as being essential to good governance, whether by governments, businesses or civil society. Wherever we operate, we seek to ensure that the high standards which we demand of others are also respected in our own organisations.
The Commitments complement and supplement existing laws. They are voluntary and draw on a range of existing codes, norms, standards and guidelines. Their adoption does not prevent Members from supporting or using other tools to promote transparency and accountability.
By signing up to these 12 Accountability Commitments, we as Members of Accountable Now seek to establish a close link with our stakeholders, continuously improve our performance and enhance our individual and collective contribution to improve peoples’ lives and the environment.
We are independent international civil society organisations (CSOs), working to advance human rights; promote equitable and sustainable development and wellbeing; protect the environment; coordinate humanitarian response and provide other public goods. In this endeavour we seek to complement, rather than replace, other actors working towards the same objectives. We are united in our commitment to accountability, as laid out in the 12 Accountability Commitments below.
Our first responsibility is to achieve our stated mission effectively, consistent to our values. In this, we are accountable to our stakeholders – in particular the people (including future generations) whose rights we seek to protect and advance. Depending on the way we work, we are further accountable to our members, supporters, ecosystems, staff, volunteers, donors, partners or regulatory bodies. In balancing the different views of our stakeholders, we will be guided by the following 12 Commitments.
Being accountable for us means more than audited accounts and published reports. At the heart of accountability is a constant dialogue with our key stakeholders about what they want, what they offer and how we can work together effectively. Feedback from our key stakeholders will inform decisions at all levels of the organisations to advance sustainable impact. This dynamic understanding of accountability is at the heart of the 12 Accountability Commitments.
The 12 Accountability Commitments
Accountable Now and eight accountability networks from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean worked together for two years to develop the 12 Accountability Commitments below. The Commitments capture a globally shared, dynamic understanding of accountability and are written in plain English to facilitate dialogue with our stakeholders and communication with the wider public. Taken together, they promise a powerful contribution of our organisations to the benefit of people and the environment and an invitation to hold us to account on how well we deliver.
1. Justice and equality: We will address injustice, exclusion, inequality, poverty and violence to create healthy societies for all.
2. Women’s rights and gender equality: We will promote women’s and girls’ rights and enhance gender equality.
3. Healthy planet: We will protect the natural environment and enhance its ability to support life for future generations.
4. Lasting positive change: We will deliver long-term positive results.
5. People-driven work: We will ensure that the people we work with have a key role in driving our work.
6. Strong partnerships: We will work in fair and respectful partnerships to achieve shared goals.
7. Advocating for fundamental change: We will address root causes by advocating for fundamental change.
8. Open organisations: We will be transparent about who we are, what we do and our successes and failures.
9. Empowered and effective staff and volunteers: We will invest in staff and volunteers to develop their full potential and achieve our goals.
10. Well-handled resources: We will handle our resources responsibly to reach our goals and serve the public good.
11. Responsive decision-making: We will ensure our decisions are responsive to feedback from the people affected by our work, partners, volunteers and staff.
12. Responsible leadership: We will ensure our management and governing body are accountable.
Fulfilling our commitments
A Reporting and Assessment Framework will accompany the 12 Accountability Commitments. The framework will outline what success looks like and how Members of Accountable Now will be held to account.
As Members of Accountable Now, we commit to:
- Apply the Commitments progressively to all our policies, activities and operations.
- Report annually on our performance against the Commitments.
- Submit each report to Accountable Now’s Independent Review Panel for assessment.
- Publish reports with the Panel’s feedback on both our own and Accountable Now’s websites.