CSO Ethics: (IV) Encouraging CSOs to respect 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 „Who could encourage CSOs to comply with the Istanbul Principles or other codes of conduct, and how?”, we received the following responses:
„Development Partners and the Board of Directors.” Oxana Miron, CONCORDIA / Secretariat of the National NGO Council of Moldova.
„Obviously, everything must begin within the CSOs, from their leadership. But for this, these leaders need to be informed. At the same time, it is necessary to establish mechanisms to support and promote those who respect these principles. Legal levers of accountability and even sanctions for those who do not respect these principles should be established. In essence, directly or indirectly, these principles are also found in the Code of Contraventions and the Criminal Code of the Republic of Moldova, which provide for sanctions for violation of the legal order where the provisions of these principles are also found, or in the civil realm when we talk about the damage to honor or organizational or personal dignity. Thus, by a more strict approach we could also contribute to the applicability of these principles. „Roman Banari, CNTM.
„Board of Directors.” Sergiu Neicovcen, CONTACT Center.
„The most relevant bodies and organizations to encourage CSOs to comply with the Istanbul Principles / Code of Ethics and Conduct are the Governing Board and the Audit Commission as lead and control bodies. They have all the levers to motivate and encourage the executive and staff of the association to apply these principles. Development and donor partners have this role because as funders of activities and projects, they could ask funded CSOs to comply with minimum ethical and behavioral standards by developing, approving and complying with a Code of Conduct Ethics. Obliging CSOs to comply could also help to ensure a higher level of transparency in the management of the support provided and grants awarded.” Tudor Lazăr, Center for Organizational Consultancy and Training (CICO).
„Boards of Directors, development partners, formal and informal networks of NGOs, opinion leaders. Moreover, these rules must also be promoted among trade unions, employers and certainly among professional unions or liberal professions (e.g., notaries, lawyers, bailiffs, etc.)” Ion Guzun, Legal Resources Centre of Moldova (CRJM).
„Development partners and colleagues from the organizations that respect them.” Iuliana Cantaragiu, National Environmental Center.
„Together – respecting the Istanbul Principles, adopting, observing and monitoring a Code of Ethics for NGOs.” Valentina Bodrug, Gender Center / Secretariat of the Platform for Gender Equality
- „Development Partners;
- Public and collective scrutiny (inter-organizational platforms, sectoral working groups, etc.)” Adrian Băluțel, Institute of European Politics and Reform (IPRE).
„Development Partners, CSOs with experience in the field.” Iulia Sîrghi-Zolotco, Expert-Group.
Respondents believe there should be an entity outside the organization, such as development partners, formal and informal NGO networks, partner CSOs, opinion leaders, etc. – to influence the internal leadership of the CSOs (the Board of Directors and / or the Census Board) to request and monitor employees and volunteers in compliance with the Istanbul Principles or other code of ethics / conduct. It would also be useful to set up mechanisms to support and promote those who adhere to these principles, legal levers of accountability, and even the application of sanctions to those who do not.
For the question „What ethical issues in CSOs do you think should be discussed more often at national and international level?”, we received the following responses:
- „Transparency: once CSOs declare that they comply with the Transparency Principle or are transparent, they must publish Activity Reports and Financial Reports on the organization’s sites and pages. At present very few organizations respect this principle.
- Democracy, inclusion and participation;
- Equality and gender equity;
- Social Responsibility;
- Legitimacy and avoidance of conflicts of interest. „Tudor Lazăr, Organizational Training and Consulting Center.
„The topics to be discussed most often should be:
- Professional ethics with respect to colleagues;
- Efficiency of implementation programs and projects;
- Sustainable development of local civil society organizations;
- Protecting the environment;
- Taking responsibility for implementing changes in the Republic of Moldova;
- Organizational Culture of CSOs.” Oxana Miron, CONCORDIA / Secretariat of the National NGO Council of Moldova.
„Mutual Respect, Support for Various Causes and Cooperation between Organizations.” Iuliana Cantaragiu, National Environmental Center.
- „Social Responsibility;
- Environmental impact and green policies for consumables and / or activities;
- Responsible cooperation between Government, Parliament and CSOs;
- Gender issues;
- More responsible and sustainable Collaboration: CSOs – Business, CSOs – Political Parties; OSC – Local Public Administration.” Ion Guzun, Legal Resources Centre of Moldova (CRJM).
- „Transparency in activity and finance;
- Communication which is non-violent and non-sexist and without incitement to hatred or discrimination;
- Sustainability of the impact of actions, with emphasis on results and creation of conditions ensuring sustainable change, especially for marginalized groups, ensuring sustainable development at all levels: national and community.” Valentina Bodrug, Gender Center / Secretariat of the Platform for Gender Equality
- „Environmental issues in CSOs’ work;
- Promoting inclusive processes for people with fewer opportunities (e.g., adapting the offices and events to the needs of people with disabilities);
- Professional ethics among CSOs representatives;
- Promoting young people, women / girls and those with fewer opportunities in OSC projects and programs.” Roman Banari, CNTM.
- „Avoiding conflicts of interest;
- Mutual respect among NGOs;
- Decisional transparency;
- Transparency towards constituents;
- Democratic governance;
- Respect for human rights;
- Promoting gender equality;
- Respect for the environment;
- Financial transparency;
- Responsibility to the community.” Sergiu Neicovcen, CONTACT Center.
- „Implementing transparency and accountability;
- Sharing accumulated knowledge and assuming a mutual learning process;
- Promoting environmental sustainability by developing and implementing priorities and approaches that promote environmental sustainability for future generations and respond to environmental crises.” Adrian Băluțel, Institute of European Politics and Reforms (IPRE).
- „Efficiency of activities;
- Transparency of civil society activities and institutions;
- Impact of environmental activities and policy recommendations.” Iulia Sîrghi-Zolotco, Expert-Group.
Respondents believe that more ethical issues, that could ensure sustainable change and development at all levels, should be discussed at national and international level. They are also concerned about:
- Transparency issues (with respect to the activities and institutions that are members of civil society, financial, decision-making, relate to stakeholders, etc.);
- Environmental protection (by CSOs in their activities, including use of consumables, promoting environmental sustainability, considering the impact of environmental activities and policy recommendations, etc.);
- Promoting equality by gender and for people with fewer opportunities, as well as inclusive processes (ensuring the offices and events of CSOs are suitable to the needs of people with disabilities, etc.);
- Taking responsibility (social impact, etc.);
- Responsible and sustainable cooperation (between the Government / Parliament and CSOs, CSOs and businesses, CSOs and local public administration, etc.);
- Avoiding conflicts of interest;
- Respect for human rights;
- Mutual respect and support among NGOs;
- Non-violent and non-sexual communication, without hatred and discrimination.
In the following articles, we will address the most important ethical issues proposed by the respondents and will talk about concrete and practical measures to implement the Istanbul Principles.