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The Principle of Accountability

Article 9 of the Code states that: “We hold ourselves accountable to both those we seek to assist and those from whom we accept resources.” This principle is concerned to meet the rightful expectations of the two key “constituencies” to whom humanitarian agencies are morally and financially accountable: the individuals and institutions who give money or aid, and the people who receive it. This principle understands humanitarian agencies as the “link” between the two groups, so playing a practical mediating role between the intentions of one and the needs of the other for which it must be accountable in an “attitude of openness and transparency”. It recognizes accountability as relating to finances as well as “effectiveness”, “impact”, “limiting factors” and minimizing “the wasting of valuable resources”. It also makes clear that “our programmes will be based upon high standards of professionalism and expertise”. This last point is important because it makes plain that humanitarian agencies expect to be judged as expert professionals rather than well-intentioned amateurs. This implies that the only mitigating factors they will claim in any failures of effectiveness and financial reporting will be external ones of context and circumstance beyond their professional control. They guarantee their essential skill and expertise.

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