The Global Standard for CSO Accountability


What is the Global Standard?

The Global Standard for CSO Accountability (the Global Standard) is an initiative of nine civil society accountability networks from around the world. ACFID is one of the project partners to this important project. The overarching aim of developing a Global Standard is to lead the movement to strengthen the effectiveness of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) worldwide by devising a shared standard on CSO accountability. Over the past two years, ACFID has worked with the project partners to learn from each other, gain a truly global view on CSO accountability, improve our owCode and reduce transaction costs for CSOs, including ACFID’s members.

In April 2017 in New Delhi, India, the project partners agreed the final version of the Global Standard.


The Global Standard Project Partners, including ACFID, have joined forces behind this new global reference standard that defines the core elements of accountability worldwide and provides the frame for building a global CSO movement for dynamic accountability.


Why have a Global Standard?



The Global Standard is a reference standard that captures a globally shared, dynamic understanding of CSO accountability. The standard itself is captured and organised in a way that will be immediately familiar to ACFID’s members in its likeness to the structure of the ACFID Code of Conduct’s 9 Quality Principles. As shown in the diagram above, the Global Standard is structured around 12 Commitments for dynamic accountability which CSOs promise to deliver. Unlike the ACFID Code of Conduct, however, the Global Standard speaks to a common accountability standard for all Civil Society Organisations, not just those in the International Development and Humanitarian sector.

The Global Standard is designed to be used by accountability initiatives. Accountability Initiatives” is a catch-all term that refers to all the ways that CSO sectors drive and maintain our accountability to our stakeholders around the world. One such initiative is ACFID, through its Code of Conduct, the self-regulatory code that our members choose to sign up to and use as a tool account for the work they do. The idea of having a Global Standard, is that it can be used by accountability initiatives to align their existing or to develop new accountability standards. It does not replace them. If accountability codes, such as ACFID’s Code, all over the world are better aligned with each other, there will be more comparability and transaction costs (such as the burden of complying with different Codes) will be reduced.  On reading the Global Standard, ACFID’s members will notice that there are already many common elements to both the ACFID Code and the Global Standard, and this alignment was an intentional objective of the 2015-16 review of our Code. In future revisions, ACFID will continue to work on ensuring this alignment exists to reduce transaction costs for ACFID’s members.


The Global Standard can also be used on a voluntary basis by:

  • Governments and donors to create enabling regulations and funding policies for CSOs

  • CSO stakeholders to hold CSOs accountable

  • CSOs themselves to enable effective partnerships




The term dynamic accountability was coined by the organisation Restless Development. It describes the concept of being an accountable CSO actor and transparently working with and learning from stakeholders in order to increase our impact and effectiveness. This dynamic understanding of accountability that puts people at the centre of decision-making is at the heart of the Global Standard. If the dynamic accountability approach articulated in the Global Standard is practiced by thousands of CSOs it has the potential to transform the civil society sector into a highly participative and responsive actor, generating trust on the ground and leveraging stakeholder contributions for greater impact. 


Read about the Project Partners: