As a leading global actor in the humanitarian field, the IFRC commits to be accountable to its multiple stakeholders: beneficiaries, member National Societies, governance, staff, volunteers, governments, donors, external partners and others.
The work of the organisation is grounded in its mission and values, placing those it aims to assist at the centre of its work. The seven Fundamental Principles guide IFRC work. A number of documents reflect the IFRC’s commitment to accountability, among which are:
In 2014, the IFRC Governing Board confirmed an Accountability Framework methodology. The IFRC, under this framework, strives to meet the highest professional and practice standards. Under this model, accountability is defined as:
“An ongoing process that creates relationships of respect between an organization and those affected by its work. In being accountable, one fulfils a commitment to enable and facilitate stakeholders to assess one’s actions against defined commitments and expectations, and to respond to the assessment appropriately.”
Respect is vital for the acceptance of our presence by host governments, for our ability to access beneficiaries, and for maintaining support from our donors. We do not fear accountability; rather, we embrace it fully. The above definition captures several key features of accountability, which form the basis of the framework as follows:
- Enabling stakeholders: Following this definition of accountability, the IFRC provides necessary information and opportunities for stakeholders to hold us to account.
- Assessing actions against defined expectations: Stakeholders are able to evaluate the IFRC against pre-established standards, norms or expectations.
- Responding to the assessment appropriately: In order for assessments to be meaningful, the IFRC must respond to findings of assessments, whether by making alterations recommended by the assessment or by justifying maintaining the status quo.
To achieve accountability, as defined above, four key conditions must be observed:
- Setting expectations: We clarify what stakeholders can expect from us and by which we can be assessed.
- Information disclosure: We actively allow stakeholders to access information necessary to make an assessment.
- Stakeholder evaluation: We support stakeholders to assess the organization.
- Learning and improvement: We consider assessments, correcting and responding to them as appropriate.
These key conditions are represented as four segments of a wheel, with the essential motivation or driver of respect at the centre. The accountability wheel is unique for each stakeholder group. It can be used in various ways to analyse all levels of IFRC business processes and stakeholder accountabilities at micro and macro levels. The organization’s overall accountability system contains myriad similar wheels interacting with each other. The wheels are in perpetual motion, resulting in relationships of respect.
Using the wheel methodology ensures a unified approach to accountability by the IFRC Secretariat and its member National Societies. The framework and methodology will help the IFRC and National Societies to achieve best practices in the field of accountability, while taking into consideration different members’ contexts. The approach aims to be straightforward and easy to communicate.