CSO Ethics: (III) Motivation to comply with the Istanbul Principlesadmin
This is a series of articles aimed at helping the actors contributing to the development of the Republic of Moldova, in particular the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), to respect certain ethical principles. In these texts, the Platform for Active Citizenship and Human Rights Partnership (CAP) has sought to use accessible language, with concrete examples and arguments of people working in organizations that apply ethical principles in their current work. The CAP team and its constituents thank the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE) for their inspiration and support for promoting ethical principles!
For the question „What difficulties do you encounter in implementing the Istanbul Principles?”, we received the following responses:
„Our organization does not face any difficulty in implementing the Istanbul Principles.” Tudor Lazăr, Center for Organizational Consultancy and Training (CICO) / Andrei Gaiu, „Youth for the right to live” Association (TDV) / Iuliana Cantaragiu, National Environmental Center / Sergiu Neicovcen, CONTACT Center.
„Unfortunately not all NGOs are transparent in their work, and donor organizations must have a fair approach to all NGOs, calling on them to respect the Istanbul Principles.” Valentina Bodrug, Platform for Gender Equality.
„It’s misunderstood by other organizations and even by employees.” Oxana Miron, CONCORDIA / Secretariat of the National NGO Council of Moldova.
„There are no difficulties. However, some principles are relatively inapplicable (eg, positive sustainable changes, which do not necessarily relate to my organization’s work.” Ion Guzun, Legal Resources Centre of Moldova (CRJM).
„We cannot always provide access for people with locomotory disabilities to the CNTM office, because it is not entirely accessible. We rented our office and due to lack of finances, we cannot adapt it to all of the needs of people with disabilities. But in essence, the CNTM activity and all its events are organized on inclusive and non-discriminatory principles. Moreover, the promotion of girls in the activity and projects of CNTM has its effects – in the last year of activity we can see the tendency in which the girls are in the team more than boys. Another problem is that we cannot always ensure our events use recyclable materials, because they are often more expensive than plastic materials.” Roman Banari, CNTM.
„The ability to implement and ensure compliance with the Principles is present in every program in some form.” Adrian Băluțel, Institute for European Policies and Reforms (IPRE).
„Sometimes, in the context of competitive procurement, it is difficult to identify suppliers who do not offer plastic supplies (we require mandatory water in glass packaging, biodegradable glasses etc.).” Iulia Sîrghi-Zolotco, Expert-Group.
Note that seven out of ten respondents mentioned that they have no difficulty in implementing the Istanbul Principles, their non-compliance owing to misunderstanding their importance, especially transparency in activity. It is mentioned that certain formulations such as „positive sustainable change” are relatively inapplicable in some areas of activity that do not directly contribute to the depletion of available resources and do not destroy the environment, thus not compromising the possibilities of meeting the needs of the next generations. However, these aspects do not generally affect the accessibility and usefulness of these principles. Some organizations face certain problems in their implementation due to financial considerations and because most suppliers are not socially responsible and do not promote re-use or recycling as effective sustainable development measures.
To the question „How could CSOs in the Republic of Moldova be motivated to respect the Istanbul Principles (or other code of ethics or conduct)?” We received the following responses:
„From our experience with CSOs in the country and following over 50 organizational evaluations over the last 2 years, very few CSOs have a Code of Ethics and Conduct or adhere to the Istanbul Principles. The reasons are varied, starting with the fact that members of these organizations did not know the need for such Codes, or did not see them as relevant. Therefore, to motivate CSOs to respect the Istanbul Principles, the following activities could be carried out:
- Create framework documents that include minimum standards of ethics and conduct that CSOs might take from certain platforms and sites, and approve them in their existing form or adjust them to their organizational needs, thus ensuring a minimum set of rules for the organization that approved them.
- Carry out a series of online or offline informational and awareness-raising campaigns for CSOs to promote the importance of the Istanbul Principles and the Codes of Ethics & Conduct, and to explain the provisions of these Principles.” Tudor Lazăr, Center for Organizational Consultancy and Training (CICO).
„Probably a first measure necessary to ensure the implementation of these principles in the Republic of Moldova is to promote them among CSOs (especially the newest ones), in order to raise awareness and promote their applicability to CSOs. As regards the responsibility of CSOs in applying these principles, we can initiate a campaign to motivate and promote the most outstanding applicants of the Istanbul Principles, so by good examples we can motivate other CSOs to highlight this field.” Roman Banari, CNTM.
- „By recommendations adopted by different CSO networks / platforms.
- In project proposals, the organization should include the ethical principles it proposes to apply, for which it requires assistance or financial support to develop the organization.
- Organizational platforms / networks need to know the needs of member / partner organizations and assume the promotion of ethical principles among them.” Ion Guzun, Legal Resources Centre of Moldova (CRJM).
„CSOs can be motivated by the insistence of development partners and donors, which should request in the application for funding, that the organizations prove compliance with the Istanbul Principles, as well this element to be researched and introduced in the reference studies (CSOs Index) which attest the development of NGOs.” Adrian Băluţel, Institute of European Politics and Reform.
„It will be possible to include some principles at the point that, after discussion with CSOs, they are stipulated in legislation. It would be possible to have an open dialogue with other NGOs to implement the Istanbul Principles, then to adopt them at the NGOs Forum and their compliance should be verified with the assistance of an Evaluation and Monitoring Committee.” CONCORDIA / Secretariat of the National NGO Council of Moldova.
„By introducing requirements into funding programs and by providing information to CSOs.” Iuliana Cantaragiu, National Environmental Center.
„By the example of international organizations that until now have organized events that are far from being models of respect for nature. Many donor organizations offer poor examples of food waste and other resources.” Andrei Gaiu, „Youth for the right to live” Association (TDV).
„By strengthening capabilities in this respect; the expectations of donors; the expectations CSOs. Including sharing of knowledge and engaging in a mutual learning process, and encouraging exchanges of experience between civil society organizations and other actors in the development process, recommendations based on practices and outcomes in the workplace, strengthening innovation and vision for the future. Valentina Bodrug, Gender Center / Secretariat of the Platform for Gender Equality.
„Verification of compliance with these principles by those who have committed to these principles. Otherwise, these principles (code of ethics) will not work. An example may be the „Media Self-Regulation Code” drafted by the Press Council.” Sergiu Neicovcen, CONTACT Center.
„By the example of experienced CSOs, adherence to existing codes and networks, pressure from donors and partners through appropriate information.” Iulia Sîrghi-Zolotco, Expert-Group.
Organizational assessments show that few organizations, especially those in the urban area, have a Code of Ethics and Conduct or adhere to the Istanbul Principles. The main reason for this is that the importance and necessity of these ethical codes have not been realized. Respondents believe that these organizations may be motivated to adhere to the Istanbul Principles through appropriate information, through the example of experienced CSOs and knowledge sharing, as well as the pressure to adhere to codes exerted by networks of organizations and donors and by legislation and government policy. Appropriate education, in particular of new CSOs, can be achieved through information and training campaigns explaining these provisions. The sharing of knowledge and experience can be done through ways of rewarding the most striking applicants of ethical principles. Donors could support this process by including mandatory requirements for compliance with the Istanbul Principles in their funding programs. At national level, networks and platforms could develop framework documents to which CSOs should adhere, including minimum practical ethical requirements required to implement the Istanbul Principles, accompanied by a control mechanism to control their compliance (which requires the existence of a controlling entity). Certain aspects may be provided in legislation. It is recommended that the Istanbul Principles be taken into account when compiling the Index of CSOs.