2006/7 Jacques Gamboni
ACCOUNTABILITY OF NGO
Accountability for an NGO – like for any institution or even any individual – is a matter of governance, defined as “a mode of governing that is distinct from the hierarchical control model characterizing the interventionist state. Governance is the type of regulation typical of the cooperative State, where State and non-state actors participate in mixed public private partnership networks1”or “the formation of cooperative relationships between government, profit-making firms, and non-profit private organizations to fulfil a policy function.2” Of course governance is more than just a way to manage the interrelations ...view middle of the document...
But the exercise of power is a complex task of balancing conflicting powers, pressures and interests. Let‟s make an example: Imagine fishermen, they are citizens of a country that incidentally financially supports an particular NGO protecting marine biodiversity They decide to become massively members of that NGO with the effect of changing the balance of power within the NGO and force it to disobey the instructions given by the government in exchange of its support. What would then happen? Deprived of resources, the NGO would disappear… unless it places ideals above internal democracy and renounces to be accountable to its members and remains accountable to its fund providers. Starting however with internal democracy, in order to function, by definition, accountability implies delivery of reliable information and the ability to eventually sanction those in charge for misbehaviour: “Accountability refers to
MAYNTZ Renate; 2002; Common Goods and Governance; Common Goods: Reinventing European And International Governance 15, 21 ;Adrienne Heritier ed. 2 LINDER Stephen H. & VAILLANCOURT ROSENAU Pauline; 2000; Mapping the Terrain of the PublicPrivate Policy Partnership; Public-Private Policy Partnerships 1, 5 ;Pauline Vaillancourt Rosenau ed. 3 BLUEMEL, Erik. 2007; Overcoming NGO accountability Concerns in International Governance. s.l. : received by direct contact with the author, 2007.
2006/7 Jacques Gamboni
relationships in which principals have the ability to demand answers from agents to questions about their proposed or past behaviour, to discern that behaviour, and to impose sanctions on agents in the event that they regard the behaviour as unsatisfactory.4” Levels of internal democratic accountability vary significantly between NGOs5 but some have argued “the role of NGOs is not to be representative but to raise awareness6 ”. Here comes again the same dilemma evoked above. But the vast majority of NGO accountability scholars dealing with this issue evaluate NGO accountability based solely upon their internal controls. Generally NGO representatives are not elected by their memberships and members typically are passive contributors who do not review or direct the NGOs’ actions. (Bluemel 2007) This is for example the case of Greenpeace. Some NGO, like the IUCN, do not agree and feel responsibility for their members, to the exception of administrative and financial responsibility. Concerning external democratic accountability – see Figure 1 – members and, to some extent, supporters and fund raisers are the primary factors of internal NGO accountability, while beneficiaries are viewed as external accountability holders who at all times possess reputation controls, but who may possess greater rights to hold NGOs accountable depending upon the function performed by the organization. Think of the situation of fishermen in my example before they became members. Think also at the beneficiaries of a public assistance...