Who We Are
We are a global team working from four regions divided equally between the Global South and North. Headquartered in San Francisco, California, we have an office in Washington, D.C., and have a regional presence in Asia and are building a presence in Africa. We partner with organizations and communities around the world.
Accountability Counsel amplifies the voices of communities around the world to protect their human rights and environment. As advocates for people harmed by internationally financed projects, we employ community driven and policy level strategies to access justice.
Why We Are Needed
The very projects meant to lift people out of poverty often have the opposite impact. These projects, such as dams, mines, and oil pipelines are notorious for environmental and human rights abuses, including forced displacement of indigenous people, poisoned rivers used for drinking water, and sexual abuse of women and girls by foreign workers.
The millions of people a year who suffer these types of abuses have few options for recourse. Those who most need access to justice are the ones facing the greatest barriers to information, have the least political power and the fewest financial resources, and lack the professional support required to seek it. Accountability Counsel exists to bridge these barriers for communities and create accountability in development finance resulting in systemic change. Accountability Counsel works to hold nearly $12 trillion a year accountable to global human rights and environmental standards.
Natalie Bridgeman Fields founded Accountability Counsel to continue more than a decade of her work toward environmental and human rights accountability in international finance and development. Accountability Counsel’s status as a nonprofit organization began in September 2009, after Natalie received an Echoing Green Fellowship to support the organization’s founding. We were recognized as a high impact social enterprise with a fellowship from the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation in 2015.
- Respect-based: Our approach identifies and addresses forms of marginalization and hierarchy that are specific to each community where we work. Our methods ensure that women, children, and other marginalized people are included as full participants in community strategies seeking accountability. Read more.
- Community-driven: We only work at the request of communities that reach us through trusted networks, and our community clients lead decision-making.
- Remedy-oriented: We accompany our client communities through the “last mile” of their campaigns for justice and commit to improving lives and environments where we work.
- Knowledge-sharing: We train partner organizations as we collaborate so that they can bring their own accountability office cases, ensuring that our expertise is multiplied beyond our direct casework.
- Sustainability-focused: Lessons from our cases translate into policy advocacy that generates systemic and lasting change; our advocacy to create new accountability offices generates new and ongoing opportunities for communities seeking justice.
We have adopted a Code of Ethics which describes our pledge to operate with mutual respect in the pursuit of equality, security, and dignity of our clients. Accountability Counsel is independent from the influence of governments, corporations, and other institutions.
We are committed to working in an interdisciplinary and intersectional movement for justice. Through our Good Ally program, we encourage our staff to take action to protect the rights of allied communities and the environment up to 40 working hours a year. This may include working on issue where our team is moved to immediate, local action outside of their job duties.
The impact we seek through our theory of change is that: communities take part in decisions that affect them and secure remedy to realize rights; effective and robust accountability systems deter abuses; and international institutions and corporations respect communities and prevent abuse.
At the request of communities, our lawyers assist people to effectively use accountability offices to defend their rights and remedy harm caused by internationally financed projects. We use our expertise with these offices to add value to locally led strategies for human rights and environmental justice. Learn more about our Communities approach and meet our clients here.
We advocate for accountability offices that are independent, fair, transparent, professional, accessible, and effective tools for justice. Second, we identify accountability gaps and seek creation of new offices to fill them. Third, we translate the lessons from our cases into advocacy for systemic change. Learn more about our policy advocacy here.
Our research informs the movement for accountability in international finance with in-depth research to support our community cases and policy initiatives, data and analytics to expose patterns in our field, and interactive tools to improve transparency and access to information. Learn more about our research here.
Together, we produce trainings and guides, and convene a global network of 140 advocates from every region that works collectively to achieve change.