CSSRI

Civil Society Self-Regulatory Initiative

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About Civil Society Self-Regulatory Initiative

The number of CSOs (non-governmental organisations, community-based organisations, foundations, thematic networks, platforms, umbrellas, and network bodies) have grown dramatically across the country. As the numbers are increasing so is their profile and activities along with their influence, community power and position.

While they continue to deliver hope and development to communities, CSOs have also come under increased scrutiny from the public, government, media, private sector, and civil society itself. As representatives of the issues that affects the common man including speaking on behalf of the often left behind, stakeholders have called out CSOs on their transparency and accountability. There continued to be repeated calls for higher professional standards within the Nigerian civil society sector, greater proactive disclosure of information, increased financial transparency and accountability, stakeholder relations, impact measurement and improved corporate governance.

To address these concerns and to push back on threats to civic space, CSOs have touted self-regulation as the best approach. Over the years, different convenings around developing self-regulatory initiatives have held with the most recent being those organised by the Nigeria Network of NGOs (NNNGO) as part of the strengthening civil society regulatory frameworks project supported by the European Union to develop a framework for self-regulatory initiative in Nigeria. Both the EU-ACT and USAID SCALE are supporting civil society conversations and consultations on finding effective ways for CSOs to regulate themselves including balancing their rights and responsibilities.

A National Technical Working Group on Self-Regulation supported by EU-ACT and USAID-SCALE, a group of civil society organisations, state and national networks have met severally both virtually and physically to review several self-regulatory models existing locally and globally in line with the Nigerian context and complexities of civil society.  Two regional consultations held in Lagos and Kano gathered over 60 participants drawn from civil society networks at the national and sub-national level to discuss, reflect and evolve a self-regulatory framework that can effectively guide the sector.

Using learnings, experience, and insight from civil society consultations, the Nigeria Network of NGOs with support from USAID SCALE is proposing the following model of self-regulation initiative for pilot.

A National Technical Working Group on Self-Regulation supported by EU-ACT and USAID-SCALE, a group of civil society organisations, state and national networks have met severally both virtually and physically to review several self-regulatory models existing locally and globally in line with the Nigerian context and complexities of civil society. Two regional consultations held in Lagos and Kano gathered over 60 participants drawn from civil society networks at the national and sub-national level to discuss, reflect and evolve a self-regulatory framework that can effectively guide the sector.

The Model

Recognising the voluntary nature of self-regulation, size of operations and the understanding that accountability is an ongoing-learning process, the initiative will incorporate both working group, code of conduct/accountability commitment and information service models in a hybrid format.

Definitions[1]

Working groups refer to a collective of CSOs which organise themselves to discuss their own transparency and accountability, share best practices and direct new initiatives.

Information services are initiatives which require the participating organisations to publish a specific set of required data that is relevant to accountability and transparency. It may also serve as a directory of CSOs.

Codes of conduct or ethics are a set of standards which is defined and agreed on by a group of CSOs as a guide to their behaviour and practices. A code usually attempts to regulate various aspects of CSOs’ operations including governance, accountability, fundraising, etc.

[1] —- Adapted from Accountability for Civil Society by Civil Society: A Guide to Self-Regulation Initiatives by CIVICUS

Hybrid Model

Civil society organisations interested in improving their transparency and accountability will have the opportunity of joining a Working Group via an application process. Working group members will commit to a code of conduct that they will report against on annually including ensuring that some information about their organisation remains publicly available both on their organisational websites or social media pages and that of the self-regulatory initiative.

The activities of the Working Group will be steered by a Steering Committee which shall show leadership by meeting all the initiatives reporting requirements. The Steering Committee will be supported by a Secretariat hosted at first by the Nigeria Network of NGOs. Each member of the committee will have their profile on the initiative’s website with their compliance to the self-regulation process published closed to their profile. Ideally members of the Steering Committee will be civil society actors with deep knowledge, context and work streams around civil society strengthening and would ensure programme relevance, take decisions on the strategic direction and execution of programmes around the self-regulation initiative. This would take into consideration diversity and inclusion.

Advisory Committee: Civil society leaders and actors with advanced years of experience who can guide and assist in the design and delivery of the initiative including contextualised skills. These stakeholders together with the Steering Committee would provide governance for the self-regulatory initiative.

Secretariat: NNNGO staff responsible for the coordination and administration of the initiative. This would likely include a programmes officer, web designer and administrator and communications officer.