What is the ACFID Code of Conduct?
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Emma and her child Ramsey, 5, on their farm, which grows maize, kale, mangoes, and bananas. Emma prepares nutritious meals for her children using fruits and vegetables grown on their farm. Emma is a beneficiary of the Vision Farming Group. Grants and sponsorship funded projects are currently supporting 15 farmer groups with 380 members doing micro-irrigation. 15 acres were cultivated in 2020 with each group putting an acre of land under drip irrigation. Photo: World Vision.
The ACFID Code of Conduct (the Code) is a voluntary, self-regulatory sector code of good practice. It was developed in 1997 and comprehensively revised in 2010 and 2016. The Code aims to improve international development and humanitarian action outcomes and increase stakeholder trust by enhancing the transparency, accountability and effectiveness of ACFID’s members. In conjunction with other aspects of ACFID’s work, the effective delivery of the Code contributes to the realisation of human rights and the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals.
On December 1 2016, ACFID members agreed to a revised Code of Conduct. This revised Code of Conduct was developed through extensive consultation over 2015-16 and came into effect on 1 June 2017.
What is the purpose of the Code?
The purpose of the Code is to improve international development and humanitarian action outcomes and increase stakeholder trust by enhancing the transparency, accountability and effectiveness of ACFID’s members.
The objectives are:
- To enable high standards of practice by ACFID’s members
- To provide assurance to the stakeholders of ACFID’s members
- To enable self-regulation and influence external regulation of the sector
- To champion standards of good practice for a broad range of development organisations
How does it operate?
All Code signatories and members of ACFID are committed to full adherence to the principles and obligations of the Code. In managing the Code, ACFID strikes a balance between facilitating learning and providing assurance on members’ policies, processes and practices.
ACFID facilitates member learning through:
- Supporting a triennial self-assessment, overseen by the governing body of each organisation, designed to encourage dialogue, reflection and change
- Providing guidelines and tools on how to implement the Code through a Good Practice Toolkit
- Providing tailored advice and support to members
- Providing opportunities for member organisations to share learning
- Delivering training on particular standards
ACFID’s Learning and Innovation program also provides opportunities for ACFID Members to share learning and build individual and organisational capabilities and capacity to enhance good practice in line with Code principles.
ACFID provides assurance to external stakeholders through:
- Reviewing the Code self-assessments
- Verifying compliance with selected aspects of the Code
- Overseeing an independent complaints handling process
- Reporting on compliance with the Code to stakeholders
- Conducting spot checks, including emergency appeal website compliance checks
All of ACFID’s Code-related work is informed by the following principles:
- Proportionality – recognising the diversity of ACFID’s members and their approach to development
- Certainty – complementing other regulatory regimes and providing consistency and transparency in implementation
- Flexibility – recognising diverse and innovative approaches to implanting Code principles and obligations
- Responsiveness – changing in response to emerging good practice and changes in the sector
- Transparency and accountability – working in collaboration to develop and change the Code and ensuring governing groups are accountable to ACFID’s members
- Capable regulators – ensuring effective people and systems to operate an effective and efficient regulatory regime
- Continuous improvement – improving processes in response to clear evidence and lessons learned and encouraging innovation
How is the Code governed?
An independent, voluntary Code of Conduct Committee monitors adherence to the Code and investigates complaints, which may be brought by any member of the public.
The Code Secretariat, located within the ACFID Secretariat, supports the Code of Conduct Committee and undertakes administration and management of the Code.
How do I know if an organisation is a signatory to the Code?
All full members of ACFID are Code signatories. ACFID’s members display the ACFID logo on their website and include it in key publications such as their annual reports.
More information on how to become a member of ACFID can be found here.
Architecture of the Code
The ACFID Code of Conduct (the Code) sets out 9 Quality Principles and 33 Commitments. The Quality Principles describe high level principles of practice that, taken together, contribute to quality development and humanitarian outcomes and increased stakeholder trust. Each Quality Principle has a set of associated Commitments. The Commitments are the behaviours that apply directly to ACFID’s members and to which members commit.
The Code is underpinned by a set of values which inform the behaviours of all ACFID’s members all of the time. These Values are:
- INTEGRITY – We act with honesty and are guided by ethical and moral principles in all that we do
- ACCOUNTABILITY – We take responsibility for our actions and are accountable to all our stakeholders, and in particular primary stakeholders, for our performance and integrity.
- TRANSPARENCY – We openly share information about our organisations and our work to all our stakeholders and to the public.
- RESPECT – We recognise the value and diversity of every person and are committed to treating others with due regard for their rights, dignity and integrity.
- EFFECTIVENESS – We strive to deliver outcomes that bring about positive change in the lives of people living in poverty.
- EQUITY – We are committed to overcoming prejudices and disadvantage and promoting fair and just access to resources and opportunities.
- COOPERATION – We work with and alongside others in a spirit of mutuality, respecting diversity and difference in the pursuit of common goals.
Implementation of the Code is supported by The Quality Assurance Framework, a separate but linked document that describes how members’ compliance with the Code is assessed and verified. The Quality Assurance Framework (QAF), describes for each Commitment:
- Compliance Indicators: These are pitched at a relatively high level of practice while still being achievable by the diversity of ACFID Members. Each of the Compliance Indicators has a Verifier which describes the evidence that is required to substantiate compliance. These Verifiers recognise the diversity of the ACFID Membership and the variety of ways that different Members will demonstrate their compliance. Members must meet the Compliance Indicators in order to be considered compliant with the Code
- Good Practice Indicators: These describe a higher standard of practice than that set out in the Compliance Indicators. Members may work towards achieving the Good Practice Indicators over time. Members do not need to meet the Good Practice Indicators to be considered compliant with the Code.
The Code is reviewed regularly to ensure it remains relevant and effective.