The Global Standard for CSO Accountability – An intense and participatory journey

14th December 2023 by Anabel Cruz and Miriam Niehaus

Almost exactly 10 years ago during the Global Perspectives conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, hosted by the International Civil Society Centre and CIVICUS, colleagues from AccountableNow (back then the INGO Accountability Charter), InterAction, Rendir Cuentas and VANI introduced an idea: to establish a Global Standard for CSO accountability. An idea developed into a global partnership driving a paradigm shift from reporting on accountability, mainly for donors’ sake, to Dynamic Accountability. The Global Standard has been developed as a tool for strengthened impact and resilience by becoming more transparent, responsive, ethical and accountable towards the people whom we work for and with. By now the Global Standard is both a tool for organisations to showcase their accountability and with strengthened integrity withstand attacks design to shrinking civic space, as well as a means to shift power in the mechanisms of programme and strategy development.   

The partnership’s story is one of exemplary global collaboration between regional and national CSO network organisations that worked very hard to achieve an agreed vision for accountability and then implement and translate it to their local context.  With the support of Sida Sweden, several project partners from all corners of the world initially came together to develop the Global Standard: AccountableNow, the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), the Balkan Civil Society Development Network (BCSDN), the Cooperation Committee for Cambodia (CCC), Deniva, InterAction, the International Civil Society Centre, Rendir Cuentas, Viwango, and the Voluntary Action network India (VANI), later to be joined by the Pacific Island Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (PIANGO), the PHE Ethiopia Consortium, and the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). In December 2017 the Global Standard for CSO Accountability was officially launched at the CIVICUS International Civil Society Week in Fiji. Now, ten years on from its inception, the global collaboration has been able to develop into a full cooperative and independent Partnership that will continue working with the sector in its ever important drive to more and better accountability. Future activities include continuing with the implementation of the Global Standard, and supporting CSOs to strengthen their accountability practices by fostering more horizontal and dynamically accountable relationships between CSOs and actors like donors, governments, and international organisations.  

Though no longer institutionally involved the International Civil Society Centre is proud to have been part of the journey of this important initiative and looks forward to its next steps.  


Global Standard Global Standard

Global Standard Partners 2018


Anabel Cruz

Director and Coordinator

Institute for Communication and Development (ICD) and Regional Initiative Rendir Cuentas

Anabel Cruz is originally from Uruguay and has three decades of experience in civil society promotion, research, and training in Latin America and in the global context. She is the Founder Director of the Institute for Communication and Development (ICD) in Uruguay and has been a consultant and evaluator for international organizations, a trainer and facilitator and a visiting lecturer at universities in several countries. She is an expert on topics related to citizen participation, civil society transparency, accountability, and good governance. She has a long working experience with local, national, regional, and global CSO networks and platforms promoting transparency and accountability of civil society and other stakeholders, leading international research, and coordinating the efforts of organizations to implement common standards, and models for accountability mechanisms. She has been the Board Chair of CIVICUS, the World Alliance for Citizen Participation in two different periods (2007-2010 and 2016-2019). She led the creation in 2009, and is since then the co-coordinator of Rendir Cuentas, a Regional Civil Society Accountability Initiative, with active CSO members and partners in 12 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Anabel is currently the Civil Society Co-Chair of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Steering Committee.

Miriam Niehaus

Head of Programmes

International Civil Society Centre

Miriam leads the Centre’s programmes. She started at the Centre as Executive Assistant in 2014 and then, as Project Manager, developed and implemented the Centre’s projects on civic space between 2016 and 2019. Prior to joining the Centre Miriam worked for VSO International and GIZ in the Palestinian Territories. She holds a BA in Islamic Studies and Social Anthropology from the University of Freiburg and an MA in Near and Middle Eastern Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies.