The International Non-Governmental Organisations Accountability Charter (INGO Accountability Charter) is a charter, established 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. By 2016, the organisation changed its name to Accountable Now.
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.
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.
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.
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” and the “first global accountability charter for the non-profit sector”.
The founding signatories 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.
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 organisational performance and effectiveness. It documents the commitment of international NGOs to these aims.
In 2008, the signatory-NGOs decided to found an independent organisation of the same name International NGO Accountability Charter Ltd in order to organise the reporting and vetting process of the member organisations against the charter commitments and develop them further. Today, the organisation operates under the name Accountable Now and has more than 20 member organisations.