Our Policy team advocates to shape decisions at the systems level to ensure local voices are heard in global finance.

Best Practice Principles

Access to justice for many communities around the world depends on our work to ensure that accountability offices uphold each of these six principles:


Learn more about how we developed these principles and why we use them as a framework for our policy advocacy.

Our Policy Advocacy program has three aims:

  1. strengthening existing accountability offices,
  2. creating new ones to close gaps, and
  3. translating lessons from our work and the field to prevent harm from international finance at a systemic level.

The first aim of our Policy Advocacy program is to strengthen existing accountability offices so that they are independent, fair, transparent, professional, effective, and accessible tools for justice. Without this work to hold up the floor of best practice in the current system, our Communities program clients and all other people who rely on accountability offices, would not have effective channels to raise grievances and receive redress. An example of this aim is our successfully advocacy to improve the accessibility of the Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) accountability office so that communities would no longer have the burden of citing specific IDB policy violations in their complaints about harmful impacts. Previously a complaint could be rejected if it did not contain this technical information.

There are many communities that lack an available accountability option because no such accountability office exists at the institution(s) financing a project causing them harm. Recognizing the need to close these gaps, our second aim is to increase opportunities for communities to seek accountability through advocacy for the creation of new accountability offices. As an example, our Policy advocacy is the reason that the new U.S. International Development Finance Corporation is mandated to have an accountability office to address community feedback about harm.

Third, we take lessons revealed by our Communities cases and research and translate them into systemic change to prevent future abuses. For example, our work supporting hundreds of Liberian farmers, charcoal producers, and workers suffering serious abuses from a failed biomass project revealed numerous institutional failures and accountability gaps at the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). Our follow on advocacy directly with OPIC, as well as with U.S. Congress, led to a strengthening of the human rights and environmental due diligence rules that cover OPIC’s investments.

How Do We Decide Whether to Engage in a Policy Initiative?

Our strategy for determining whether to undertake, continue, and conclude policy initiatives depends on an assessment of capacity, our relative value added, and ability to make an impact.

We also analyze potential initiatives based on the relative influence of the institution and/or its accountability office in the broader field, and the risk that movement away from best practice creates precedent at one accountability office and/or downward pressure at other accountability offices.

Finally, we evaluate the coherence of potential initiatives with Accountability Counsel’s other program goals, including whether the policy or practice of the institution or office is causing harm to a community that Accountability Counsel is supporting, requiring policy work to achieve a community’s case goals.

How Our Policy Advocacy Works

We are a leading civil society voice in our policy advocacy, using techniques such as: relationship building with accountability office staff and other potential change makers and influencers; correspondence and meetings with financial institutions’ staff and leadership regarding both formal policy reviews and other initiatives; and engagement with political bodies that oversee accountability offices. Driven by our community-centered approach, we work in civil society coalitions on nearly all issues.

We use lessons from our community-led cases, our research, and our policy experience, along with close collaboration with relevant peer civil society organizations, to inform our policy recommendations that move existing accountability offices towards best practice and create fit-for-purpose blueprints of new accountability offices.

Meet Our Policy Advocacy Program Team

Our Policy advocates work from Washington, D.C. in close collaboration with our global team to create a more just, transparent, and accountable system of global finance. We invite you to learn more about our team and explore our policy initiatives.