Amnesty makes its mark with debut social reportDecember 2010
Amnesty International UK has become one of the few NGOs to produce a sustainability report.
The group first looked at producing such a document in 2004, but has taken six years to get to the point where it can publish it. Only a handful of NGOs worldwide produce a sustainability report, and then often infrequently. Amnesty UK says its offering will be ‘annual’ from now on.
The 72-page document looks at the objectives and outcomes of Amnesty’s human rights work, with chapters on governance, staff and volunteers, the group’s environmental impact and an audited summary of its finances. However, the non-financial information is unverified.
Amnesty has produced the report to honour a commitment to ‘best practice in transparency and accountability’ which its parent body, Amnesty International, made by signing the International Non-Government Organisations Accountability Charter in 2006.
Since the signing of the charter, Amnesty International UK says it has ‘reviewed all systems, policies and processes’, appointed Simone Pereira as its first transparency and accountability manager, and has introduced ‘a policy and process for receiving and acting upon external comments and complaints’.
The report, which covers the period 1 April 2009 to 31 March 2010, is aimed at members, partners and supporters, partner organizations, potential donors and the wider public. Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen said she hoped it would ‘create an environment in which we can learn and improve’.
Amnesty International UK has published regular reports on various topics in the past, but these have mainly been aimed at its activists. The new document has been produced using the Global Reporting Initiative to
the B level of application of its G3 guidelines.
The UK group is one of more than 70 Amnesty sections and structures around the world. Although it has only 150 staff members, it claims to have a significant social impact, with more than 225,000 UK members and financial supporters.
NGOs now have their own version of the Global Reporting Initiative guidelines on sustainability reporting, which advises them to report on matters such as diversity, labour relations, environmental impacts, internal whistleblowing arrangements, training, and health and safety. It also recommends reporting on corporate governance matters such as whether the body’s chair is also an executive officer.
Amnesty was a member of the cross-sector GRI working group that drew up the guidelines and has been generally supportive of the CSR agenda, particularly through its UK-based business group.
However, at last month’s CSR Europe conference in Brussels it took a more combative stance, hiring a stand at the event to display slogans such as ‘CSR ≠ respect for human rights’ and ‘CSR is not enough’, as well as voicing concerns that corporate responsibility continues to be too focused on voluntary measures.
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