International Non-Governmental Organisations Accountability Charter

The world’s most widely used multi-sectoral accountability framework for INGOs.

The International Non-Governmental Organisations Accountability Charter (INGO Accountability Charter) is a charter, founded in 2006 by a group of independent non-profit organisations, which is intended to foster accountability and transparency of non-governmental organisations, as well as stakeholder communication and performance.[1]


NGOs are more than ever before important participants in framing the social, political and economic environment. On the national level they provide disaster relief and social service, promote self-help and self- governance in developing countries where they are operating. In addition they enhanced a strong international Civil Society by creating informal but important normative regimes which are influencing international institutions in their decision-making. This greater involvement of NGOs also raises the question of how they justify their activities.[2]

NGOs have a particular interest in meeting standards on accountability and transparency in view of the responsibilities towards not only the cause which they are meant to serve, but also stakeholders of various types, including donors and sponsors (possibly comprising corporations and governments), intended program beneficiaries, staff and the general public.[3][4]

The charter is considered a contributing element to underscoring the legitimacy of NGOs.[5]



At the International Advocacy Non-Government Organisations (IANGO) Workshop hosted by Transparency International in June 2003, the importance of promoting accountability and legitimacy was discussed by its participants. As they recognised their growing involvement in international issues the need of promoting accountability was highlighted. The Hauser Center for Non-Profit Organisations at the Harvard University was asked for a research paper on the topic to provide a foundation for following discussions. At the following annual meetings in 2004 and 2005 the participants analysed their own concepts of accountability, set up an initial draft and with the help of independent consultant specialists revised the draft until a final version was ready to launch.[6]


Signed in June 2006 by eleven leading international NGOs active in the area of human rights, environment and social development, the INGO Accountability Charter has been referred to as “the first ever set of international and cross-sector guidelines for the NGO sector”[7] and the “first global accountability charter for the non-profit sector”.[8]

Founding members

The founding members are 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 World YWCA.

Current members

ActionAid International, Amnesty International, Article 19, BRAC, Care International, CBM International, CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation, European Environmental Bureau, Greenpeace International, Educo (previously called Intervida), Islamic Relief, Oxfam International, Plan International, Sightsavers International, SOS Kinderdorf International, Terre des Hommes, Transparency International, World Vision International, World YWCA


The Charter is based on ten core principles and aimed at enhancing respect for human rights, good governance, accountability and transparency, encouraging stakeholder communication, promoting inclusion and environmental responsibility, and improving organizational performance and effectiveness.[7] It documents the commitment of international NGOs to these aims.

The Charter requires its members to submit an annual report according to the Global Reporting Initiative's NGO Sector Supplement. The reports are then reviewed by an Independent Review Panel that provides feedback to the organisation, before the reports and the feedback are published to the Charter website.[9][10]


The Board of Directors of the Charter has representatives from Amnesty International, Sightsavers International, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Greenpeace International, Transparency International, World Vision International and independent directors. The current Chairman of the Board of Directors is Brendan Gormley, former CEO of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC).

In July 2010 the International Civil Society Centre took over the Secretariat role of the Charter from CIVICUS.

Related codes of conduct

In 1997, the One World Trust had created an NGO Charter, a code of conduct comprising commitment to accountability and transparency.[11]

In 2014 the Charter kick-started the Global Standard for CSO Accountability project together with eight other well-established civil society accountability networks stemming from India, Cambodia, Philippines, Uganda, Latin America, Kenya, Australia and the US, which collectively aim to elicit what is key to CSO accountability around the world and devise a commonly used reference standard.

See also


  2. Brown, L. David and Mark H. Moore (2001): “Accountability, Strategy, and International Nongovernmental Organizations”, in: “Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly” 30: p.569, online:
  3. See for example: Maria Francesch-Huidobro: Governance, politics and the environment: a Singapore study, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS), ISBN 978-981-230-831-3, 2008, p. 60
  4. See also: Kumi Naidoo: Global civic society: Rallying for real change. In: Willie Cheng, Sharifah Mohamed: The world that changes the world: How philanthropy, innovation and entrepreneurship are transforming the social ecosystem, Lien Centre for Social Innovation, John Wiley & Sons, ISBN 978-0-470-82715-4, 2010, p. 331
  5. Duncan Matthews: Intellectual Property, Human Rights and Development: The Role of NGOs and Social Movements, MPG Books Group, UK, ISBN 978-1-84720-785-2, 2011, p. 229
  6. Explore Charter background on:
  7. 1 2 Lael Brainard, Derek Chollet (editors): Global development 2.0: can philanthropists, the public, and the poor make poverty history?, The Brookings Institution, ISBN 978-0-8157-1393-7, 2008, p. 175
  8. Andrew Stuart Thompson: Laying the groundwork: Considerations for a charter for a proposed global civic society forum. In: James W. St. G. Walker, Andrew S. Thompson: Critical mass: the emergence of global civil society, The Centre for International Governance Innovation and Wilfried Laurier University Press, ISBN 978-1-55458-022-4, 2008, p. 214
  9. Is GRI Too Much Transparency for NGOs?, PRIZMA, March 27, 2011
  10. About the Charter,
  11. Charte des ONG (NGO Charter), One World Trust, 1997

External links

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