Civil society organizations must acknowledge the risks of conflict of interest

This was the key finding the conference “Corruption, civil society and transparency” held in Tallinn by Transparency International Estonia. Participants discussed what conditions should a civil society organization comply with to be transparent and accountable and what measures can be taken by them to encourage the dissemination of ethical principles in society. “In addition to being transparent, an NGO must also appear to be transparent, “said Kristina Mänd, Council Member of Network of Estonian Nonprofit Organizations. An organization must ensure that the third parties would not begin to doubt in its accordance to the best leadership and appropriation of financial resources practices. “Long term goals established in statutes and agendas must be consistent with those being applied in practice, “said Mänd. Powerful levers to improve the standards of civic associations are vested in donors who can establish specific conditions to the candidates. “It is elementary that we require applicants to confirm their adherence to the Code of ethics of Estonian nonprofit organizations, “said Agu Laius, Executive Director of National Foundation of Civil Society. “Our practice has proved that strictness of the donor will ultimately make organizations more transparent and accountable, “added Laius. Participants agreed that more stringent regulation of conflict of interest policies in CSOs is necessary on one hand to avoid political and financial dependence and also to ensure fully equitable use of funds. “Right now we can say that there have been no major concerns about civil society organizations, but problems tend to occur unexpectedly – as happened with Estonian judicial system,” said Tarmu Tammerk, Board Member of TI Estonia. Participants agreed that the best way to disseminate best practices is their immediate transfer to other civic organizations. Already existing conflict of interest policies should be distributed to others. Conference was supported by National Foundation of Civil Society. Transparency International Estonia is charitable nonprofit organization aimed at raising awareness of the nature of corruption and fight against corruption. TI Estonia is supported among others by Open Estonia Foundation and National Foundation of Civil Society. Contact: Asso Prii, Mob: +372 55 646 371, Email info@transparency.ee www.transparency.ee