In 2015 the nine Accountability Initiatives from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, supported by the International Civil Society Centre, began working together to the develop the Global Standard for CSO Accountability. On 6 December 2017 the Global Standard was officially launched during a session at the International Civil Society Week in Suva, Fiji. Participants came from all over the world to learn more about this tool and exchange ideas to promote dynamic CSO accountability. The following are my five main takeaways from the event:
1. A standard at the global level can only be a reference
The Global Standard is a reference standard that different organisations can use in various forms. Each CSO can decide what aspects of the Global Standard are the most useful to itself and to its members, and at which moment in time. Being a reference for reflection, discussion and change, it can be adapted to different cultural, geographical and organisational needs. The participants of our launch widely agreed that is an important quality of the Global Standard that it does not impose a set of guidelines in a top-down manner.
2. Accountability has to be dynamic
The Global Standard promotes a dynamic understanding of accountability that puts people in the centre of CSO decision making. We need to move beyond housekeeping exercises and encourage our organisations to engage in a dialogue with their stakeholders. Participants emphasised the importance of this approach for the sector. If we actively use stakeholder feedback to make decisions and honestly reflect on how we exercise power within our organisations, this will lead to more innovative and effective CSO work now and in the future.
3. We need to build a community
The Global Standard is only a tool and can therefore only be a starting point for a global community that practices Dynamic Accountability. If a dynamic approach to accountability is practiced by thousands of CSOs, it has the potential to transform the civil society sector into a highly participative and responsive actor, generating trust on the ground and leveraging stakeholder contributions for greater impact.
4. The Global Standard complements the Istanbul Principles and other frameworks
The Global Standard is guided by the Istanbul Principles and supports their implementation. In a video message, Julia Sanchez, co-chair of CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE), explained how the Global Standard and the CPDE have already started to explore how we can best work together: “We need to be coherent and send a strong message about the accountability of our sector and not stay divided and have competing systems”. Participants of our launch also emphasised the need for a collective narrative about our global commitment to accountability.
5. The Global Standard itself must be dynamic
Many participants brought in very good ideas on how the Global Standard could be further developed. The 12 commitments and associated key actions are not set in stone and will be revised in the future. This should be a collaborative approach in which we will consult a wide variety of actors to emphasise the standard’s global dimension.
Overall the participants were very interested in taking the Global Standard back to their organisations and highlighted the importance of Dynamic Accountability as crucial in times of shrinking civic space. We’re taking away a lot of inspiring ideas and interesting questions from the launch into our second project phase. And to truly walk the talk, we encourage everyone to send us any feedback on the event or the Global Standard itself via: firstname.lastname@example.org