Corruption is an imminent threat to development in all countries, as it undermines the public’s confidence in state institutions, and impedes the development, stability and prosperity of its institutions.
Like all other entities, human rights organizations are affected by corruption in the state, some institutions may slide into the quagmire of corruption due to a culture of secrecy and impunity that prevents them from being subject to periodic scrutiny.
Globally, the number, size and importance of human rights organizations is increasing. This growth comes as a result of the escalation in human rights violations and social problems of an economic and political nature.
Human rights organizations, like other non-profit organizations, aim to meet collective demands that the public sector cannot cover. To achieve this mission, rights organizations need the trust of donors, which nictitates implementing transparency measures.
When human rights organizations lack transparency, it is easy for someone to misuse money and take advantage of donors and the organization. Unfortunately, these violations have become common and caused a decline in donor confidence. However, if human rights organizations became more transparent and shared more information, trust can be restored.
How can human rights organizations become more transparent?
The essence of financial transparency is based on creating an environment where information about the circumstances, decisions, resources, and actions of human rights organizations are available, visible and understandable to all relevant parties.
For institutions to be responsive to people's needs and problems be equitable and effective, they must practice transparency in everything related to their mission, policy and activities at all administrative and financial levels. They should do this in a clear and publicized manner that allows serious accountability for the organization and its employees regarding all transactions.
In terms of financial transparency, rights institutions should apply clear financial management policies regarding their financial resources and methods used to bring in funds. Rights organizations should also prepare, present and document their financial reports in line with international accounting standards, and provide such information upon request.
At the same time, relevant parties – members of the general assembly, donors, beneficiaries – should be informed with the organizations’ plans and work strategies. As such, the target groups should be involved in drafting these plans, activities and programs, and the way these services can be obtained.
In conjunction with these procedures, rights institutions should pledge to disclose how the information gathered about target groups is used, maintain the confidentiality of the target group’s personal information, and ensure their protection – unless the persons concerned waive this right or if the disclosure of this data is required by law.
Working on easing the awareness of workers in human rights institutions about transparency, various forms of corruption, and the tools and methods necessary to provide internal procedures to receive complaints from employees and volunteers, contribute to strengthening the application of financial transparency, accountability and fighting corruption in these organizations.
At the same time, human rights organizations must provide a safe space for their employees to report internal violations, enabling them to form audit and monitoring committees, which in turn would take the necessary measures to address these violations and take various disciplinary measures.
All over the world, donor institutions and supervisory bodies are increasingly calling for human rights organizations to promote the principle of transparency in general, and financial transparency, as one of the keys to the prosperity of organizations, and one of the basic criteria’s that help maintain trust.
Transparency is also the standard by which institutional performance is evaluated, and facilitates monitoring, oversight and accountability tasks, and contributes significantly to anti-corruption efforts.
There is no specific way to measure transparency. Donors use different tools, such as questionnaires, statistical tests, and interviews to answer specific questions to gain a general understanding of the organization’s behavior in various directions. Thus, these tools do not accurately measure the level of transparency, but rather serve as a guide for donors to determine how these rights organizations manage funds and resources.
In this case, human rights organizations are obligated to develop internal control mechanisms that allow donors to know the destination of their donations.
Transparency and good governance are essential to achieving the social credibility that allows the organization to survive and achieve its goals.
Therefore, improving accountability and transparency is one of the most important and complex matters for human rights organizations to ensure that their work remains to benefit society and marginalized groups.
Only one question remains without an answer is: are mere accounting rules sufficient to increase transparency in human rights organizations?