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Recent global troubles such as the global financial crisis have proven that global actors and institutions have far greater effect on the lives of individuals than that of the financial realm. However, according to the Global Accountability Report (GAR) released by global Think-Tank, One World Trust (OWT), and launched last Feb. 12, 2009 in the Philippines by the Asian Institute of Management and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, many of these powerful global actors, which include corporate (TNC), intergovernmental (IGO) and international non-governmental (INGO) organizations are not answerable to the people they affect the most. The GAR is an assessment of the accountability of 30 of the world’s most powerful IGOs, INGOs, and TNCs to civil societies and affected communities worldwide.
The results of the 2008 report reveal that all 30 of the organizations surveyed have failed to score higher than 80% when assessed against OWT’s accountability indicators. The results also reveal that most organizations score an average of 70% or less in overall accountability capabilities, which is the minimum threshold for GAR that indicates that an organization has policies in place that meet some good practice principles. This means that those affected the most by actions of global actors are the ones least able to influence them.
The top performers for the 2008 report include the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development for IGOs, the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM) for INGOs and BHP Billiton among the corporations. Now on its third ear, the report confirms that each sector stands out in one dimension—whilst IGOs show strong transparency and evaluation systems, INGOs show best capabilities for encouraging participation, and TNCs have the best complaint and response handling mechanisms.
If global organizations are to be part of the solution to global challenges, there needs to be a step change in their approaches to accountability. They need to start implementing the more challenging accountability reforms which truly empower external stakeholders to hold an organization to account.
The report was presented by GAR project manager of OWT, Mr. Robert Lloyd. The panel of reactors included Transparency International chair retired judge Dolores Espanol and William Beloe, acting head of Advisory Services and Program Manager for Sustainability of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Philippines.
IFC, which did relatively well in the assessment, scored an average of 69% in the report. According to Mr. Beloe, transparency and evaluation remain the driving force of best practices within IFC, and the organization discloses its information to its stakeholders and the general public through the internet.
Third-party watchdogs such as Transparency International, are however sidelined as mere “observers” in pushing for accountability in the country, according to TI chair retired Judge Dolores Espanol. In pushing for better accountability in helping people put forth complaints to the office of the Ombudsman, organizations like TI can only go so far—they can only assist, refer and observe, but they are not allowed to interfere.
She also expressed that there is a lack of system of evaluating the impact of non-governmental organizations and their various projects in the Philippines—which she stressed, should be equally as important as the projects themselves.
The launching was graced by various members of civil society groups, representatives from the government and the media and was capped by an open forum.