Afghanistan

Code of Conduct for NGOs engaged in Humanitarian Action, Reconstruction, and Development in Afghanistan

Preamble

Because Afghanistan is at a unique point in its history and has the opportunity to move towards long-term stability, economic prosperity and respect for human rights;

Because NGOs are civil society actors and a strong civil society is essential to the development and functioning of a stable Afghan nation and state;

Because NGOs are committed to the development of Afghanistan and Afghan capacity;

Because the development of a new Constitution and a legislative structure for Afghanistan provide a context in which accountable and responsible behavior can flourish and be recognized;

Because NGOs, as civil society organizations and emergency and development program implementers, continue to make important contributions with and for the Afghan people;

Because the nature and roles of NGOs are not well understood, leading to accusations that NGOs misuse funds and are wasteful and self-serving;

Because various "for-profit" and political actors misuse the NGO umbrella to promote their commercial or political interests;

Because NGOs continue to face demands that pull them in many different directions and may threaten their capacity and their independence as civil society actors; and

Because Codes of Conduct are a mechanism by which NGOs can ensure higher standards - including greater transparency and accountability,

We, the accredited representatives of NGOs in Afghanistan, hereby voluntarily affix our signatures to this Code of Conduct and commit our organizations to upholding the Principles of Conduct in this Code.

Definitions

The Code of Conduct is a set of shared norms, principles and values that aims to enhance the conduct and reputation of NGOs.

Non-Governmental Organizations are voluntary, not-for-profit, non-partisan and independent organizations or associations engaged in serving the public good. NGOs may be national as well as international; secular as well as 'faith-based', and of membership and non-membership categories. =B7 "Voluntary" denotes free will on the part of the NGO as well as community partners. =B7 "Not-for-profit" means that an NGO cannot distribute its assets, earnings or profits as such to any person. However, there may be paid employees or activities generating revenue which will be used solely for the stated purposes of the organization.

Non-partisan and independent indicates that the NGO is controlled and directed by its governing body, in keeping with its mandate and not by any other power or group.

Signatories are NGOs whose duly accredited representative has signed and accepted this Code of Conduct.

We refers to all signatories to the Code of Conduct.

Civil Society includes all formal and informal groups and associations that are not of the public and business sectors. NGOs are a part of civil society.

Gender equality means that the different behavior, aspirations, needs and rights of women and men are considered, valued and favored equally. It does not mean that women and men have to become the same, but that their rights, responsibilities and opportunities will not depend on whether they are born male or female.

Gender equity means fairness of treatment for women and men, according to their respective needs. This may include equal treatment or treatment that is different but which is considered equivalent in terms of rights, benefits, obligations and opportunities.

Capacity building is the process by which individuals, groups, organizations, institutions and societies increase their abilities to:

1) perform core functions, solve problems, define and achieve objectives; and 2) understand and deal with their development needs in a broad context and in a sustainable manner.

Humanitarian action includes those activities taken to prevent and alleviate human suffering arising out of conflict, crisis, and calamity, including any situation involving:

1) damage to or loss of lives of non-combatants in a conflict situation or

2) 2) patterns of (gross) human rights or humanitarian law violations against civilians in conflict and/or ongoing political crisis.

NGO Mission Statement

Our general mission as NGOs operating in Afghanistan is to address humanitarian, reconstruction and sustainable development needs in Afghanistan, with a special focus on the rights of those who are disadvantaged and vulnerable. We work in partnership with each other, the government, donors, and communities.

Purpose of the Code

The Code of Conduct will promote:

- improved understanding of NGOs, their purposes, and their accomplishments among the general public, government, donors and the media;

- Transparency, accountability and good management practices in the operation of NGOs by voluntary self-regulation; and

- improved quality of services provided by NGOs by raising standards of conduct.

I. Principles of Conduct

1 Our Organizations are People-Centered

1.1 Focus on the people we serve: Our primary loyalty, accountability, and responsibility is to the people we serve. Our programs are designed and developed in response to the needs of the people.

1.2 Self-reliance and ownership: We seek to help people and communities to solve their own problems. We encourage and enable the development of self-reliance and advance the right of people to fully participate in decisions that affect their lives.

1.3 Human rights: We endeavor to respect, protect, and promote the fulfillment of the human rights and obligations of all Afghans in accordance with international law.

1.4 Trust: We work to build the trust of the communities with which we work.

1.5 Participation and non-discrimination: We involve men, women, youth and children of our target communities to the greatest possible extent, engaging them in the conception, implementation and evaluation of projects and programs. We strive to ensure the participation of marginalized groups in communities where we work.

1.6 Respect for local values: We respect the dignity and identity of the individual, and acknowledge indigenous knowledge, culture, religious faith and values. This does not mean that we support practices that undermine the human rights of any individual or group.

2 Our Organizations Are Committed To Sustainable Positive Impact

2.1 Effectiveness: We are committed to effectiveness and to maximizing the positive impact of our programs. We avoid duplication of services.

2.2 Sustainability: Whenever possible, our programs seek durable solutions that are cost effective, that build Afghan ownership and capacity, and that are driven by the long-term development goals of communities.

2.3 Environmental impact: We exercise a responsible and responsive approach to the care of the physical, natural environment and to the proper management of Afghanistan's eco-systems in all our activities.

2.4 Monitoring and evaluation: We monitor and evaluate the impact of our programs and share findings with relevant stakeholders, including the communities we serve, donors, government and the general public.

3 Our Organizations are Committed to Transparency and Accountability

3.1 We are transparent and accountable in our dealings with the government and community partners, the public, donors and other interested parties.

3.2 Accountability: We develop and maintain sound financial policies, audits, and systems in order to manage our accounts. We conform to the constitution, laws, rules and regulations of the government of Afghanistan and where necessary, lobby for policy change. We are truthful and honest in all matters related to raising, using and accounting for funds. We maintain sound financial, accounting, procurement, transport and administrative systems that ensure the use of resources in accordance with intended purposes.

3.3 Transparency: We disseminate information on our goals and activities to interested stakeholders. We maintain and make available financial and activity reports upon request by relevant and interested parties. We use all available opportunities to inform the public about our work and about the origin and the use of our resources.

4 Our Organizations are Committed to Good Internal Governance

4.1 Governing documentation: We have written constitutions or memorandums of association that clearly define our missions, our objectives and our organizational structures.

4.2 Equal opportunity: We develop and apply written policies, rules and procedures that affirm our commitment to equal opportunities in our employment practices and in the promotion of staff.

4.3 Employment Practices: We apply hiring and termination practices that respect the freedom of choice of individuals and the human resource needs of other stakeholders. We offer positions based on merit, pay appropriate salaries, allocate job responsibilities according to individual capacities, and demand adequate notice from employees and provide adequate notice for terminations without cause.

4.4 No conflicts of interest: All our organizational transactions are free of conflicts of personal and professional interest. The services of board members shall be given freely and voluntarily, other than reimbursements for essential costs incurred during service.

5 Our Organizations are Committed to Honesty, Integrity and Cost Effectiveness

5.1 Honesty: We are truthful in all our professional activities.

5.2 Integrity: We refrain from internal and external practices that undermine the ethical integrity of our organizations. We do not engage in theft, corrupt practices, nepotism, bribery, or trade in illicit substances. We accept funds and donations only from sources whose aims are consistent with our mission, objectives and capacity, and which do not undermine our independence and identity.

5.3 Cost effectiveness: We utilize the resources available to our organizations in order to pursue our missions and strategic objectives in cost effective ways. We strive to minimize waste and unnecessary expense, and to direct all possible resources to the people we serve.

6 Our Organizations are Committed to Diversity, Fairness, Non-Discrimination against Marginalized Groups and to Affirmative Action

6.1 Diversity: We seek to have a workforce that appropriately reflects the gender, ethnic, geographic and religious diversity of Afghanistan and of the areas where we work.

6.2 Equity: We seek to advance greater balance and to promote equity in all internal relations as well as equitable access to opportunities within our organizations. We seek to include the underserved, the vulnerable, the disabled and other marginalized groups in all our initiatives.

6.3 Gender equity: We consider and value equally the different behavior, aspirations, needs and rights of women and men. This may include equal treatment or treatment that is different but which is considered equivalent in terms of rights, benefits, obligations and opportunities. Their rights, responsibilities and opportunities do not depend on whether they are born male or female.

6.4 Non-discrimination against marginalized groups: Our human resource policies and practices promote non-discriminatory recruitment, hiring, training and working practices and relationships.

6.5 Affirmative action: We strive to increase the representation of under-represented groups in senior decision-making positions at headquarters, in the field, in boards and in advisory groups. We seek to include the under-served, the vulnerable the marginalized, and the disabled in all our initiatives. We endeavor to strengthen the position of Afghan women both within and outside our organizations.

7 Our Organizations are Committed to Building Afghan Capacity

7.1 Capacity building: We take every appropriate opportunity to help build Afghan capacity to understand needs, establish priorities, and take effective action so that ultimately humanitarian, development and reconstruction needs are met by Afghans.

7.2 Consultation: We design and implement projects in consultation with local communities and the government because we are committed to the long-term sustainable development of Afghanistan.

7.3 Sustainability: We design and facilitate projects so that services may be taken over by target communities or by government bodies to enhance sustainability.

7.4 Human resources: In line with our policy of commitment to capacity building, we give priority to Afghan nationals in our recruitment, hiring and training practices.

7.5 Physical and technical resources: We maximize the utilization of locally available physical and technical resources, where appropriate.

7.6 Appropriate technologies: We promote the use of appropriate technologies that can be owned and maintained by communities.