The Development of the INGO Accountability Charter
The INGO Accountability Charter was first discussed at the International Advocacy Non-Government Organisations (IANGO) Workshop hosted by Transparency International in June 2003. At the workshop, participants raised the issue of INGO legitimacy and accountability in the light of their increasingly influential role in the international arena and their increased access to resources and policy-making circles. In order to better address the increasing demands for greater transparency and accountability in the sector, participants asked the Hauser Center for Non-Profit Organisations at the Harvard University to prepare a research paper on the issue to serve as a basis for subsequent discussions.
At the 2004 IANGO Workshop held at Oxfam International, participants created a task force composed of the heads of Amnesty International, Greenpeace International, Oxfam International and the International Save the Children Alliance to review and synthesise the experiences of workshop attendees regarding their own accountability.
At the following meeting hosted by Greenpeace International in 2005, the task force shared its initial draft of the ‘Charter of Accountability’ for INGOs. Workshop participants committed themselves to presenting the draft to their national affiliates, partner organisations and networks for inputs and suggestions to integrate into a revised version of the draft.
Inputs from an independent consultant specialist on accountability and reporting issues were solicited to finalise the document. Workshop participants continued the development of the INGO Accountability Charter for an additional year, prior to publicly launching it at the Fourth Annual IANGO Workshop hosted by Amnesty International in June 2006 in London.
Launch in June 2006
On the 6th of June 2006, eleven leading INGOs held a press conference in order to publicly declare their adoption of the Charter and encourage other INGOs to join them in their commitment to good governance to set the standard for international NGOs.
These were: ActionAid International, Amnesty International, CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Consumers International, Greenpeace International, Oxfam International, International Save the Children Alliance, Survival International, International Federation Terre des Hommes, Transparency International and the World YWCA.
Initial Management Arrangements
The Founding Signatories of the Charter established a Steering Group composed of representatives from ActionAid International, Amnesty International, CIVICUS World Alliance of Citizen Participation, Greenpeace International, International Save the Children Alliance, Oxfam International and Transparency International the to oversee its initial development. CIVICUS was designated to serve as the Secretariat of the Charter to track signatories; administer the sign-up and reporting processes; facilitate communications between Charter Signatories; and serve as an interlocutor between signatories and the Steering Group.
Following this the Founding Signatories adopted a provisional Roles and Responsibilities document governing the Charter and elected a Management Committee to undertake the oversight of the sign-on process and guide the development of the Charter and the reporting process. The Committee agreed on criteria for new signatories in order to ensure that only those INGOs that abide by the Charter’s ethical framework adopt the Charter.
International NGO Charter of Accountability Company Ltd
The Charter was registered as a company limited by guarantee in the United Kingdom in 2008. It is owned by its Member Organisations and governed by a Board of Directors consisting of representatives from Member Organisations. Please find more information on the governance and management of the Charter here.
The Secretariat of the Charter was transferred to the Berlin Civil Society Center in July 2010. The Center is the global action platform for the world’s leading civil society organisations and owned by seven major INGOs.
The launch of the Charter represents the starting point of an ongoing process to establish and implement a common framework to improve transparency and accountability of INGOs. It has established reporting, monitoring and evaluation mechanisms for INGOs so their accountability can be measured according to an accepted standard. In 2011 the Charter Members unanimously approved the Five Years Strategy, a document that outlines the strategy to establish the Charter as the authoritative voice and standard code of practice for all INGOs.