The possibility of greater NGO accountability: an enquiry from within the International Secretariat of Amnesty International

Drammis, Zaira (2010) The possibility of greater NGO accountability: an enquiry from within the International Secretariat of Amnesty International. (MA(R) thesis), Kingston University, .


In the past few years the issue of accountability of international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) has gained prominence in particular in the light of INGOs increased growth and power. The concept of accountability remains however hard to define and little empirical information exists with regards to its applicability in practice within INGOs. This dissertation examines the implementation of two projects aimed at advancing accountability in practice at the International Secretariat (IS) of Amnesty International (AI). The aim of the study is to provide an experiential account of what the concept of accountability demands of INGOs, the benefits that can emerge from its implementation and the conditions for its practice. The main focus of the study is to look at accountability through the application principle of inclusivity of stakeholders and proactivity by the organization. The research technique is primarily qualitative as the author of the study was a participant observant of the two projects subject of study. The main sources of data are internal AI documents, results of interviews with a wide range of stakeholders (including external to Al) performed by the author as a way of advancing the projects, and the author's own observations. Emphasis is given on the description of the context and a longitudinal approach has been taken in the chapter arrangements which describe chronologically the evolution of the projects between 2004 and 2009. The dissertation concludes that for accountability to be meaningfully applied in practice, whatever the tool or mechanism, it is essential that INGOs take a proactive and inclusive approach as their guiding principles. A proactive approach (proactivity) in this context means that INGOs are not only willing to be held to account, but that they actively seek to be held to be to account. This can only be achieved by including, in a participatory manner, internal and external stakeholders (inclusivity) in key organizational processes such informing decision making and delivery. Accountability efforts should be measures by taking into account the quality of the processes for putting it in practice and not just by the outputs or end results. Based on these findings, the study proposes a general model through which organizations could test

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