Part I: Background on CSO/NGOAccountability1 Issues in CSO/NGO AccountabilityThe issue of accountability in the civil soci...
authorities”8 demonstrating regularly that it uses its resources wisely and doesn’t take advantage ofits special privilege...
GTZ: - “embracing a social sphere that is independent of the state, includes self-reliant social        networks, acknowle...
Internal stakeholders (staff, board, members for associations, member organizations for        coalitions, other CSOs/NGOs...
organization. In the simplest form an organization may be accountable to donors for utilization offunds, to governments fo...
whom and for what they are accountable. Although diverse in form and structure, self-regulationinitiatives fall into one o...
the sector and existing accountability frameworks. The following sections provide a briefbackground on:        The profile...
headed by an Executive Director.18 However, the core objective of these organizations is not to servetheir membership but ...
to have resulted in a limited initiative to act collectively. The following are among the networksoperating at the nationa...
(1) Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without any interference. (2) Everyone shall        have the right to f...
Obviously, the mandatory nature of the legislative framework entails that the type of accountabilityis upward accountabili...
Charities may engage in activities listed under Article 14(j-n) of the Proclamation.28 The provisions ofthe Proclamation a...
Between 1996 and 1998, a series of six workshops were organized by the Inter-Africa Group (IAG) forEthiopian NGOs. The fou...
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Cs regulation part i background on ngo accountability

  1. 1. Part I: Background on CSO/NGOAccountability1 Issues in CSO/NGO AccountabilityThe issue of accountability in the civil society sector has gained increasing prominence both at thenational and international levels. For instance, an index developed on the basis of more than 50country studies has found the issue of civil society organizations (CSOs) legitimacy to be the mostwidely raised concern.1 This attention to accountability in the sector is attributable to the increasingnumber, enhanced role and … Since the 1970s international development NGOs have exploded innumber and scale of operation owing mainly to the redirection of previously government focusedoverseas development assistance.2 Presently, the non profit sector is valued at over $1 trillion a year3globally, which by itself is sufficient cause for growing attention in the international community.Moreover, NGOs have increasingly taken a more prominent and visible role across a broad spectrumof concerns at international, regional and national levels. The takeover of the welfare functions ofthe formally accountable State by international NGOs and local non-profit organizations has alsogiven more urgency to the issue, especially among States.4 NGO accountability to ensure both thelegitimacy and effectiveness of their operations could thus be considered the reverse side of greateropportunities to exert influence on a wider range of issues. SustainAbility’s seventh survey of thenon-profit sector concludes that while facing major opportunities to increase their influence over theglobal agenda, many international NGOs will have to address critical challenges around theiraccountability, financing and partnerships.51.1 Concept of NGO AccountabilityNGO Accountability is a concept that is still being debated and analyzed.6 The Merriam-Websterdictionary defines accountability as “the quality or state of being accountable; especially: anobligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions.” In this generalsense, accountability concerns a relationship between A and B, where A is accountable to B if theymust explain their actions to B, and could be adversely affected by B if B doesn’t like the account.7For an NGO, accountability refers to “the obligation to report on one’s activities to a set of legitimate1 The CIVICUS’ Civil Society Index2 Between 1975 and 1985 official governmental aid to NGOs increased by 1,400% (Fowler, 1991)3 Marie Chêne, Developing a code of conduct for NGOs, U4 Expert Answers, Transparency International, 27 April 20094 Goetz and Jenkins, 2002, p49 “the privatization of service delivery and some other State functions has confused the public perception of the formally accountable actor: is it the State or the private provider?”5 Vicente García-Delgado, NGO Accountability: One size does not fit all, A view from the United Nations, February 20077 Goetz and Jenkins, 2002, p5
  2. 2. authorities”8 demonstrating regularly that it uses its resources wisely and doesn’t take advantage ofits special privileges to pursue activities contrary to its status. Transparency, accountability andlegitimacy are closely intertwined notions. An accountable NGO is transparent, readily opening itsaccounts and records to public scrutiny by funders, beneficiaries, and others. The legitimacy of theNGOs is tied to its accountability to its constituency - and the public at large -, the transparency of itsprocesses, its adherence to its mission and its effectiveness in fulfilling its mandate. Through theseacts of accountability, an NGO expresses its commitment to democratic values and, over the longterm, contributes to the building of civil society.91.2 ElementsEven the simplest definitions of accountability are bound to raise some key questions as to thenature of the relationship represented. For example, the above definition of the term as duty toreport raises the key issue of what are the legitimate authorities and whom NGOs should beaccountable to. A more comprehensive use of the term accountability in the context of the civilsociety sector has to answer four core questions the form the basic elements of our concept ofaccountability. These are:10 Who is accountable? To whom? For what? and How?The following sections identify and analyze the major issues and considerations in answering each ofthese questions.1.2.1 Who is Accountable?The first element of accountability refers to our understanding of the entities that are accountable.In the context of civil society, this amounts to the meaning and profile of CSOs/NGOs. The followingare some of the broadly accepted definitions of civil society: Plan International:- Refers generally to groups of people / organisations who aim to work together for the benefit of individual citizens or society as a whole (not including government).11 World Bank: - “wide array of non-governmental and non-profit organizations that have a presence in public life, expressing the interests and values of members or others based on ethical, cultural, political, scientific, religious or philanthropic considerations” 128 Marie Chêne, Developing a code of conduct for NGOs, U4 Expert Answers, Transparency International, 27 April 20099 NGO Governance Handbook for CEE10 Jem Bendell, Debating NGO Accountability, NGLS Development Dossier, United Nations, New York and Geneva, 200611 available at:
  3. 3. GTZ: - “embracing a social sphere that is independent of the state, includes self-reliant social networks, acknowledges broad based values of ‘civil participation’ and offers opportunities for individuals and groups to defend the interests of the disadvantaged in the public sphere”13 The Center for Civil Society (CCS): - “the set of institutions, organizations and behaviour situated between the State, the business world and the family”.14 Transparency International’s draft plain language guide defines civil society as follows: The arena, outside of the family, state and market where people associate to advance a common set of interests. Voluntary and community groups, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), trade unions and faith-based organisations commonly are included in this sphere.The first thing that comes to mind here is that the conception of civil society encompasses a wideprofile of structures, institutions, processes and behaviours outside the state and business sectors,except for the family. Even if one was to focus on structures and institutions, which are collectivelycalled Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) or Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), vary in termsof purpose, nature of beneficiaries, size, degree of formality, scope of their activities, constituency,funding, and other key components of institutional profile. In terms of purpose, the referencecovers, among others, charitable entities, religious institutions, educational institutions (schools,universities, research institutes, and think tanks), health facilities, professional associations, tradeassociations and standards bodies, and labor unions. To complicate matters, there are inherentoverlaps between the civil society and the other sectors. For instance, professional associations,labor unions, employers’ associations, and consumer groups have dual characteristics straddling theprivate and civil society sectors.More relevant to the issue at hand, the broad range of actors covered by the concept of civil societyare characterized by divergent interests, incentives and challenges as well as operating in differentsocial, political and legal contexts. Thus, while accountability is an issue common to all of them, thespecifics are bound to vary, making it difficult to address them in the same framework. In the veryleast, a civil society accountability framework will have to be very general and supplemented bymore specific frameworks differentiated by narrower shared characteristics.1.2.2 To whom?Organizations need to be accountable to many different sets of stakeholders which, separately andcollectively, play an integral part in their operations. Each with distinct relationships based ondifferent or even divergent interests. This calls for a three-stage process involving: identification ofthe organization’s key stakeholders; clarifying the interests, or stakes, of each key stakeholder; and,prioritization among stakeholders. For CSOs/NGOs, the key stakeholders they need to beaccountable to are:12 Bizuwerk Ketete: Issues on Civil Society, Discussion Paper Prepared for the Civil Society Internal Dialogue Organized by the Union of Ethiopian Civil Society Associations, June 2006, p. 10: quoting Ousman Deme: African Civil Society and APRM: Insights between Hopes and Skepticism, Partnership Africa Canada.13 Ibid., p. 11: quoting GTZ Working Document, 2002, p. 5414 Ibid., quoting Center for Civil Society, London School of Economics: What is Civil Society
  4. 4. Internal stakeholders (staff, board, members for associations, member organizations for coalitions, other CSOs/NGOs, local partners for INGOs) Donors (institutional donors or supporters providing funding and other resources); Government regulatory bodies (provide legal and regulatory frameworks); Beneficiaries provide the basis for an organizations purpose and moral legitimacy.The profile and stakes of each stakeholder may also merge and overlap. For instance, a governmentagency may be an internal stakeholder if represented in the organizational governance or as animplementing partner, a donor if providing financial or technical support, and an intermediatebeneficiary if targeted by the intervention. Similarly, a donor agency may be an internal stakeholderas a member of a coalition while beneficiaries in broad membership associations such as labor unionsare also internal stakeholders.The different nature of the various stakeholders involved makes the issue of NGO accountability verycomplex and challenges NGOs to clarify and balance their responsibilities vis-à-vis their differentstakeholders. Effectively balancing the needs of these different stakeholders is the crux of beingaccountable.According to a 2006 UN dossier on NGO accountability, NGOs should be primarily accountable tothose they affect who have less power.15 However, the strength and clarity of accountabilityrelationships is more likely to be determined by the leverage and power of the stakeholder over anNGO. Usually, the accountability to institutional donors draws strength from contractual obligationsand the dependence of NGOs on donor funds. Similarly, governments create the legal and regulatoryenvironment within which NGOs function, so they too have significant leverage to guaranteeaccountability. Beneficiaries, on the other hand, despite being the reason why most NGOs exist,generally lack the power to make demands of them. Thus, unless organizations put in placeinstitutionalized means for beneficiaries to make their opinions felt, the accountability relationshipwith them remains weak.The implications for the development of additional accountability frameworks are three-fold. First,existing organizational accountabilities to donors and the government should be taken into accountsince NGOs could not significantly alter the relationship. Second, to the extent that the overallaccountability framework could be strengthened, upward accountabilities to these actors should beaddressed. Overlapping interests between upward and downward accountabilities should also betaken into account since the rationale behind upward accountability is often related to the interestsof beneficiaries. Thirdly, since it is the most critical gap in the status quo, downward accountability tobeneficiaries should be consciously addressed in any comprehensive accountability framework.1.2.3 For What?This element of organizational accountability determines the scope of the relationship betweenNGOs and the stakeholders they are accountable to. It answers the question ‘what is the basis forthe stake creating the relationship? Or why is it a stakeholder in the organization and its operations?As such, its nature draws from the identity of the specific stakeholder and its stake in the15
  5. 5. organization. In the simplest form an organization may be accountable to donors for utilization offunds, to governments for its effect on the public interest, and to beneficiaries for the effects of itsactivities on their lives.The task here is to identify each stakeholder, map their respective stakes in the organization and itsoperations, and determine what each is owed in terms of accountability. However, since anorganization is accountable simultaneously to each stakeholder for different matters, the multiplicityof stakeholders and complexity of their stakes makes the identification of this element ofaccountability more difficult. The prioritization of stakeholders in determining ‘to whom’ theorganization is accountable to is very important in this respect.1.2.4 How?As the debate on NGO accountability has increased, a wide range of initiatives have emerged toaddress perceived gaps and concerns in relation to issues such as NGO governance, transparency,advocacy, finances and tax status, as well as their stakeholder relations. These include externallyimposed mandatory regimes as well as voluntary self-governance initiatives.Mandatory measures take the form of regulatory rules enacted through legislation that areimplemented and enforced through a government mandated institution. NGOs face a range ofregulations ranging from those that apply to any organization, regarding financial affairs, labourrelations and so forth, to those that are specific to organizations with a special tax status. Otherregulatory tools developed and used within such framework include establishing regulatinginstruments such as certification or rating systems, self assessments, independent evaluations,financial and social audits, disclosure of statements and reports and participation processes.Aside from regulatory initiatives on NGO accountability, the sector has itself been using a variety ofvoluntary mechanisms around the world. Typically, these take the form of codes of conduct,accreditation and certification bodies, rating systems, and other measures or standards governingconduct16 or programme or financial information disclosure to which organizations willinglyundertake to abide.Mandatory and voluntary accountability mechanisms applicable within the civil society sectorinteract in a number of ways. Typically, mandatory rules define the minimum organizational andoperational standards while voluntary ones provide for commitments beyond the minimum required.However, the two may supplement each other in the sense that the latter elaborates upon theformer or seeks to address gaps in the minimum standards.1.3 Mechanisms of Civil Society Self-RegulationNGOs are addressing the issue of accountability individually and collectively through self-regulationmechanisms. A growing number are attempting to develop common norms and standards around to16 For example, codes of conduct on ethical behaviour have been adopted or drafted by groups in Eastern Europe (Wyatt, 2003), across Asia (Correa, 2003; Sidel, 2003) and in North America and Western Europe (Ebrahim, 2003a).
  6. 6. whom and for what they are accountable. Although diverse in form and structure, self-regulationinitiatives fall into one of three categories:17 aspirational codes of principles/ethics that signatories strive to achieve; codes of conduct in which more defined standards are set; certification schemes where compliance with clear standards is verified by a third party.Table 1: Types of Voluntary NGO Accountability MechanismsAccountability Definition ExampleMechanismsElections Election of board members by NGO World Development Movement (WDM), members Friends of the Earth (FOE)Board Appointment of independent board World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)Appointments members from key stakeholder groupsMonitoring and Assessing performance against a set of A requirement of most bilateral aid agencyEvaluation pre-defined goals for the funded activity funded projects (OECD-DAC)Standards and Documented statements of how an Human Accountability Project (HAP-I),Codes of Conduct organization and its staff should operate, People In Aid adopted by one or a collection of organizationsCertifications Auditing organizations against, and Société Générale de Surveillance (SGS) endorsing them as in conformity with, NGO Certification, Philippine Council for specific standards or codes NGO CertificationRatings Assessing organizations against a standard Global Accountability Project (GAP), or code, and rating their performance, Charity Navigator whether requested or notReporting Publishing of performance, sometimes Financial reports are required in most against using a specific standard, to a countries, and most large NGOs publish specific organization or the public annual reports on progress, for donors or membersDialogue and Involvement of affected persons in ActionAidParticipation decision making on, or implementation of, specific projectsSource: Jem Bendell, Debating NGO Accountability, NGLS Development DossierThe most common mechanisms of CSO/NGO self governance is the code of conduct. These may beapplicable within a specific organization, a coalition of collaborating organizations, a sector orgeographical area, nationally, or internationally.2 Ethiopian Civil Society ContextThe next stage in the task at hand is to identify and describe the key issues in NGO accountability inEthiopia. To this end, one should first set the sector context in terms of profiling the actors within17 Robert Lloyd and Lucy de las Casas, NGO self-regulation: enforcing and balancing accountability, One World Trust
  7. 7. the sector and existing accountability frameworks. The following sections provide a briefbackground on: The profile of CSOs/NGOs populating the Ethiopian civil society sector in general and the membership profile of CCRDA in particular; The mandatory accountability mechanisms in place in the form of the legal framework for the regulation of the civil society sector in Ethiopia; and, Self-regulation initiatives by CSOs/NGOs.At the end of this part of the assessment, we will have established the context for the developmentof the planned NGO code of conduct.2.1 The Ethiopian Civil Society SectorThe diversity of CSOs in terms of formality, organization and areas of engagement makes acomprehensive and water-tight classification impossible. The similarities and differences betweenvarious categories is to be seen in terms of the importance of one characterization in the profilerather than its presence or absence. With this in mind, the current composition of the Ethiopian civilsociety sector may be seen in five general categories on the basis of form of organization, primarypurposes and membership. These are community based organizations, NGOs, interest groups, andmass organizations. Category Structure Core Objective Membership RemarksCommunity Informal, but Issues in local Community members;Based form formal communities CBOs as unionsOrganizations unionsNGOs Formal Charitable or 3rd Limited, if any Membership not a associations or party benefit defining feature organizationsInterest Groups Formal Shared interest of a Open to defined social associations defined group group, e.g. teachers, workers, employersMass Formal Formulating and Open to a large social DevelopmentOrganizations associations advancing broad group, e.g. youth, Association is defined public interests women, by geographical areaCommunity based organizations (CBOs) are informal self-help groups with local membershipoperating at the community level. CBOs generally serve the purpose of creating social and economicsecurity and stability in communities through the distribution of individual/ household level riskassociated with death, marriage, sickness, and other social occasions. While CBOs are informalstructures, there is a growing trend of formalization at a secondary level as unions of similar CBOs.NGOs are local, regional and national organizations registered with the Ministry of Justice to engagein relief and rehabilitation, and development activities. Organizationally, most Ethiopian NGOs areestablished as non-profit associations with a general assembly, a board of directors, and a secretariat
  8. 8. headed by an Executive Director.18 However, the core objective of these organizations is not to servetheir membership but a broader constituency or public purpose as determined by foundingmembers.19 Though very few, there are NGOs established without such membership structures.Interest groups are formal membership organizations whose primary objective is to protect andpromote the rights and interests of a narrowly defined group forming their membership profile, i.e.members and potential members. While interest groups have similar organizational structures asnon-profit associations, their membership profile covers their constituency. The range of CSOs fallingunder this category include professional associations, labour unions, associations of victims andvulnerable groups, and employers associations.Mass-based organizations are ‘public membership associations’ characterized by formal membershiporganizations with broad membership, actual and potential. Their primary purpose is acting asforums for participation towards taking collective action and mobilizing support for issues of interestto a broadly defined social group. Most of these organizations, such as youth associations andwomen’s associations, are very similar to interest groups except for their broader constituency.Others, such as development associations20 are distinct in having objectives defined bygeographically delimited constituency and virtually no limits on membership.The remaining civil society landscape is inhabited by a range of entities with distinctly differentprofiles undertaking charitable or public interest activities including: the development sections of religious, commercial and other institutions (with or without parent bodies operating in the country); foreign and international NGOs, and government sponsored foreign NGOs (usually referred to as GO-NGOs) implementing projects (as branch offices or locally registered entities); inter-governmental development cooperation structures (acting as distinct agencies or departments within a foreign embassy); formal networks or super associations with a wide range of institutions as members with or without shared thematic, geographic, or other interest (CRDA, NEWA, UECSO).Ethiopian CSOs/NGOs have some experience of coalitions in the form of thematic groups and issue-based networks on pastoralist issues, environment, rural development, gender, HIV/AIDS,reproductive health and other issues as well as informal event-based networks. The objective ofmost of these networks does not go beyond information sharing. Issues of organizationalindependence and apathy towards interference in the management of member organizations seem18 Until recently, the only legislative framework for CSOs was the law governing non-profit associations which required them to have appropriate bodies and organs (General Assembly, Board of Directors, and Executive Committee). Hence the statutes and by-laws of most CSOs provide the existence of these organizational structures.19 As a requirement of registration, non-profit associations should have five founding members as per the provisions of the Civil Code relating to associations.20 Development associations are ethnic and/or locality-based engaged in development issues within the original settlement areas of the ethnic or linguistic group they are associated with.
  9. 9. to have resulted in a limited initiative to act collectively. The following are among the networksoperating at the national level: Christian Relief and Development Association (CRDA), now CCRDA The Union of Ethiopian Civil Society Associations (UECSA) Poverty Action Network Ethiopia (PANE) Association of Ethiopians Living with HIV/AIDS (ALEWHA) Civic and Voters Education Association (CVEA) Basic Education Association-Ethiopia (BEA-E) formerly known as BEN Sustainable Land Use Forum (SLUF) Network of Ethiopian Women’s Associations Ethiopian Inter-Faith Forum for Development Dialogue and Action (EIFDDA) Association of Ethiopian Microfinance Institutions (AEMFI) Pastoralists Forum Ethiopia (PFE) Networking of Organisations Working in Support of Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC Network) Consortium of Reproductive Health Associations (CORHA)This profile of civil society actors in Ethiopia is currently in a state of change due mainly to changes inthe regulatory framework.2.2 The Regulatory FrameworkThe regulatory framework for CSOs/NGOs in Ethiopia has its basis in the Federal Constitution.Substantive and procedural laws have recently been developed specifically for the regulation of the(bulk of) the sector. Moreover, tax laws predating the specific civil society legislation have becomerelevant through these laws.2.2.1 The FDRE ConstitutionThe FDRE Constitution, which came into force in 1995, recognizes a wide range of ‘participationrights’ designed to enable meaningful participation in political, social, economic and cultural life. Oneamong these rights is ‘freedom of association’ under Article 31 of the Constitution. Other importantrights such as freedom of assembly, conscience, information and expression as well as the right tojustice are also given recognition in constitutional provisions. Article 29 Right to Hold Opinions, Thoughts and Free Expression
  10. 10. (1) Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without any interference. (2) Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression without interference. This right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any media of his choice. Article 30 Freedom of Assembly, Public demonstration and the Right to Petition Everyone shall have the freedom, in association with others, to peaceably assemble without arms, engage n public demonstration and the right to petition. Appropriate procedure may be enacted to ensure that public meetings and demonstrations do not disrupt public activities, or that such meetings and demonstrations do not violate public morals, peace and democratic rights. Article 31 Right to Association Everyone shall have the right to form associations for whatever purpose. Associations formed in violation of the appropriate laws or associations formed with the objective of overthrowing the constitutional order or associations carrying out these activities shall be prohibited.In recognizing ‘freedom of association’ as a right the provision does not define the substance of theright except for prohibition of associations in violation of appropriate laws, or to illegally subvert theconstitutional order, or to promote such activities.21 This apparent omission is addressed throughArticle 13/2 of the same identifying the UDHR and other international human rights instrumentsratified by Ethiopia as standards of interpretation as regards the human rights chapter. Among thestandard setting instruments falling within the meaning of Article 13/2, the ICCPR and ICESCR containrelevant provisions. The first, under Article 22/1, refers to an individual’s right to associate with otherswith a view to promote one’s interests. Article 8/1/a of the ICESCR,22 on the other hand, containsmore detailed stipulations identifying the elements of the freedom as well as reference to protectionfrom discrimination23.2.2.2 Charities and Societies ProclamationThe provisions of the 1960 Civil Code and a 1966 Internal Security Act issued by the then Ministry ofInterior were used to govern the establishment and operation of the whole range of ‘civil societyorganizations’. On January 6, 2009, the Charities and Societies Proclamation No. 621/2009 of Ethiopiawas enacted.24 The following sections assess the mandatory regulatory framework established bythe CSP in line with the key elements of accountability focusing on: Who is accountable? The scope of the CSP in terms of which organizations are governed by its provisions; and, How? The mandatory accountability mechanisms put in place to regulate the covered organizations.21 The existence of specific provisions dealing with freedom of religion and political parties does indicate exclusion of these forms of organization from the provision.22 Article 8 (1)(a) of the ICESCR obliges State Parties “to ensure the right of everyone to form trade unions and join the union of his (her) choice, subject only to the rules of the organization concerned, for the promotion and protection of his (her) economic interests”.23 Non-discrimination in the implementation of human rights is a general principle recognized in all three documents, i.e., UDHR, ICCPR and ICESCR24 Proclamation to Provide for the Regulation and Registration of Charities and Societies, No. 621/2009 (available at: n)-Negarit%20Newspaper.pdf
  11. 11. Obviously, the mandatory nature of the legislative framework entails that the type of accountabilityis upward accountability to the government for compliance with applicable legal rules. As such, wewill not be discussing the other elements of accountability (To whom? & For what?) in any detail.The aim here is to describe the mandatory accountability framework as it is relevant to the discussionof the voluntary one in subsequent sections rather than describing the regulatory framework in itstotality. ScopeThe Proclamation defines two categories of formal CSOs in Ethiopia: Charities and Societies. Charitiesare institutions established exclusively for charitable purposes and provide public benefit. (Article 14of CSP) The four types of charities recognized by the current law are charitable endowments,charitable institutions, charitable trusts, and charitable societies.25 Societies, on the other hand, areassociations or persons organized on a non-profit making and voluntary basis formation of the rightsand interests of their members and to undertake other similar lawful purposes as well as tocoordinate with institutions of similar objectives. (Article 55 of CSP) The CSP singles out one form ofsociety, “Mass-Based Societies” defined as inclusive of professional associations, women’sassociations, youth associations and other similar Ethiopian societies (Article 2/5 of the CSP) Whilethe identification of CSOs either as charities and societies is a new approach introduced by the CSP, itis of no apparent relevance to the applicable regulatory rules.26Charities and Societies are given one of three legal designations, Ethiopian Charities or Societies,Ethiopian Resident Charities or Societies or Foreign Charities, based on where the organization wasestablished, its source of income, composition of membership, and membership residential status.(Article 2 of CSP) Ethiopian Charities or Societies are institutions formed under the laws of Ethiopia,whose members are all Ethiopians, generate income from Ethiopia and are wholly controlled byEthiopians. These organizations may not use foreign funds to cover more than 10% of theiroperational expenses.27 Similar institutions that receive more than 10% of their resources fromforeign sources or whose members include Ethiopian residents are designated Ethiopian ResidentCharities or Societies. Foreign Charities, on the other hand, are those formed under the laws offoreign countries, or whose membership includes foreigners, or foreigners control the organization,or the organization receives funds from foreign sources. The major distinction is that only Ethiopian25 A charitable endowment is an organization through which certain property is perpetually and irrevocably designated by donation or will or the order of the agency for a purpose that is solely charitable. (Article 16 of the CSP) A charitable institution is a charity formed by at least three persons exclusively for charitable purposes. (Article 27 of the CSP) A charitable trust is an organization by virtue of which specific property is constituted solely for a charitable purpose to be administered by persons, the trustees, in accordance with the instructions given by the instrument constituting the charitable trust. (Article 30 of the CSP) A charitable society is a society which is established for charitable purposes. (Article 46 of the CSP)26 Only the provisions defining charities and societies and outlining their organizational structure are differentiated.27 There is some discrepancy between the Amharic and English versions of this provision of the CSP. The English version refers to using funds received from foreign sources while the Amharic version refers to receiving foreign funds. This, however, does not appear to be relevant to the issue at hand.
  12. 12. Charities may engage in activities listed under Article 14(j-n) of the Proclamation.28 The provisions ofthe Proclamation are applicable to (Article 3 of the CSP): Charities or Societies that operate in more than one regional state or Societies whose members are from more than one regional state; Foreign Charities and Ethiopian Resident Charities and Societies even if they operate only in one regional state; Charities or Societies operating in the City Administration of Addis Ababa or Dire-Dawa.In other words, all forms of charities and societies defined within the CSP, except Ethiopian charitiesoperating exclusively in one national regional state fall within the purview of its provisions. However,religious organizations, traditional CBOs and societies governed by other laws are not covered by theCSP. MechanismsThe Charities and Societies Agency (CSA) established under the Ministry of Justice is the coreregulatory agency for charities and societies. Its core objectives include ensuring that charities andsocieties operate legally in a transparent and accountable manner. Mechanisms used to this endinclude mandatory registration, and regular reporting supervision. CSP Article 68 requires all charitiesand societies to register, having fulfilled a set of requirements.29 Once operational, charities andsocieties are required by law to submit to the agency regular financial and activity reports as well asdisclose their bank account details. (Articles 77-83 of the CSP) The supervisory mandates of the CSAinclude (Articles 84 – 94) instituting inquiries, and requiring charities and societies to producedocuments, in writing and orally. In the event of misconduct, the CSA may take a range of measuresincluding suspension of officers, restrict the organization’s financial dealings, or order the retentionof property. The CSP also provides for more stringent enforcement mechanisms such as suspensionand cancellation of license potentially leading to dissolution of the charity or society as well aspenalty provisions (Article 102).2.3 National Experience in NGO Self-regulationThe history of self-regulation in the Ethiopian civil society sector is very recent owning to factorsassociated with the development of the sector and limited practice of networking. Such efforts aretraced to a series of independent initiatives to examine the role and relationships of NGOs inEthiopia. Notable among these are: the work of the Consortium of Ethiopian Voluntary Organisations(CEVO); a series of workshops by the Inter-African Group (IAG) on the roles of NGOs in the emergingEthiopian Civil Society; and, workshops on the principles and laws regulating NGOs by the ChristianRelief and Development Association (CRDA). These forums laid the foundations for the Code ofConduct for NGOs in Ethiopia by clarifying fundamental issues in NGO accountability such aslegislative regulation of NGOs, volunteerism, and the need for a code of conduct for NGOs.28 These include the advancement of human and democratic rights, the promotion of equality of nations and nationalities and peoples and that of gender and religion, the promotion of the rights of disabled and children’s rights, the promotion of conflict resolution or reconciliation, and the promotion of the efficiency of the justice and law enforcement services.29 An additional requirement of securing a letter of recommendation from the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is stipulated for foreign organizations.
  13. 13. Between 1996 and 1998, a series of six workshops were organized by the Inter-Africa Group (IAG) forEthiopian NGOs. The foundations of this Code were laid by the workshop organized in January 1997on self regulation and a code of conduct for NGOs. On March 14, 1997, members of the variousumbrella organisations30 appointed a body called an ‘Ad Hoc NGO Consultation Working Groupconstituting of representative from each umbrella organisation and two resource NGOs, IAG andPACT, to come up with a draft code of conduct for NGOs in Ethiopia using the previous initiatives andopinions gathered through a series of consultations of the NGO community. CRDA was chosen toserve as the secretariat of the Group.The Group examined a number of works in the field and adaptations of other NGO communities inother countries during its regular meetings. It then framed the first draft of Code of Conduct forNGOs in Ethiopia, which was scrutinised and further developed at two national consultativemeetings in February and September 1998. The September meeting, attended by well over 200 NGOpeople, representing both local and international NGOs, endorsed the final Code of Conduct as aninstrument of self-regulation for the NGO sector.The Code of Conduct has introduced for the first time standards for previously unregulated activitiesand was expected to encourage more effective and efficient ways of working, and improve thepartnership between the NGO sector, the government and the private sector. The Code was alsoexpected to ultimately contribute to an enabling environment for all sectors and to the sustainabledevelopment of Ethiopia and its people.30 CRDA, CEVO, Society for Participatory Development in Ethiopia, (SPADE) and Consortium of Family Planning NGOs in Ethiopia, (COFAP)