Accountability Counsel defends the environmental and human rights of communities around the world who are harmed by internationally financed development projects. We specialize in non-judicial accountability mechanisms established to receive community complaints. We accomplish our mission through: (1) assisting communities to use these mechanisms effectively and; (2) policy advocacy, ensuring that these complaint offices are accessible, transparent, and fair tools for justice.
Our approach includes working closely with community members to help voice their complaints. Our work pays particular attention to women, girls and other marginalized groups, who are often the most deeply harmed by abuses.
Gender-related Approaches to Our Work
Why Gender? Accountability Counsel works in communities where people face grave challenges to their livelihoods, risks to the environments they depend on for survival, risks to their social structure, and human rights abuses.
In some of our cases we seek to avoid harm, while in others we seek to redress wrongs already committed. In each of our cases, the agribusiness, petroleum and hydropower projects that communities are facing have disproportionate impacts on women.
Women are often the least likely to be consulted about a project that will impact their livelihoods, yet bare the brunt of impacts such as denial of access to water, food security threats, and physical abuse. It is therefore imperative that the voices of women and girls are heard through the complaint process so that those with the power to stop abuses and make change respect women’s rights and needs.
Accountability Counsel employs a number of methods to ensure that women and girls are included and maintain appropriate leadership roles in our work.
- When working in communities, we seek out women leaders to guide our work and ensure that we are aware of issues uniquely facing women and girls;
- We often work in small groups during trainings, with women and children in their own groups to be able to voice concerns that they may not be able to express in the presence of males.
- We take particular care to ensure that the women’s stories of abuse, concerns about livelihoods, mental and physical health and safety, and other gender-related impacts of projects are documented and well-described in the formal complaints that we help communities draft to accountability mechanisms.
- When conducting follow up work, we ensure that women are equal participants in decision-making and that our process of seeking accountability has an empowering impact, not an impact that further oppresses vulnerable members of society.
Attorney Natalie Bridgeman Fields founded Accountability Counsel to continue over a decade of her work toward environmental and human rights accountability in international finance and development through trainings, claim support and policy advocacy. Accountability Counsel’s status as a non-profit organization began in September 2009 after Natalie received an Echoing Green Fellowship to support Accountability Counsel’s work. We are based in San Francisco, California and partner with organizations and communities around the world.
Accountability Counsel partners with local, regional and international organizations in all of our work. We maintain formal memberships in the following networks:
- International Corporate Accountability Rountable (ICAR)
- NGO Forum on Asian Development Bank (ADB)
- OECD Watch
Accountability Counsel is grateful for the support of foundations and individual donors who make our work possible. We were founded with support from Echoing Green. We also rely on the pro bono services of lawyers and our regular teams of Law Fellows, Interns and Volunteers. Accountability Counsel is currently funded by:
- Anonymous Donor
- The Andrew Hughes Chatham Foundation
- Covington & Burling LLP
- David and Anita Keller Foundation
- Flora Family Foundation
- Ford Foundation
- Genentech Matching Gifts Program
- Google Matching Gifts Program
- Sigrid Rausing Trust
- Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher& Flom LLP
- Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati Foundation
- Individual donors