2012 – 2014 Development of a UNDP Accountability Mechanism

In April 2012, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) invited civil society to comment on the design of a new accountability mechanism.  On 18 June, 2012, Accountability Counsel submitted comments on UNDP’s Proposal for Environmental and Social Compliance Review and Grievance Processes, to which UNDP responded.

In January 2014, UNDP released Draft Investigation Guidelines for the Social and Environmental Compliance Unit (SECU) for comment. On 18 April, 2014, Accountability Counsel, along with 25 other organizations and individuals, submitted comments on SECU’s draft operating procedures. UNDP released the final investigation guidelines in December 2014. These guidelines were updated in August 2017.

On 1 January, 2015, UNDP launched its new accountability mechanism. In addition to SECU, UNDP also created the Stakeholder Response Mechanism (SRM), which offers dispute resolution concerning environmental and social impacts of UNDP projects.

Analysis and AC Impact

UNDP incorporated several of Accountability Counsel’s recommendations during the creation of the SRM and SECU:

  • Established the independence of the Lead Compliance Officer, the Office of Audit and Investigations Director, and the staff at both the project and host country levels, along with improving independence overall by maintaining a grievance process in every country at the country level.
  • Improved fairness of the process by offering a complaint hotline for knowledge resources on dispute resolution processes and allowing complainants the opportunity to work with their choice of representative.
  • Strengthened accessibility by allowing complainants to choose compliance review, dispute resolution, or both. UNDP further ensured accessibility by clarifying that complainants do not need to allege direct harm of the project and by extending the time frame for complaints to allow complaints after the project has finished.
  • Created a more transparent system by increasing the amount of information available to the public and by establishing public websites for resources and updates on cases.
  • Improved the effectiveness of the system by establishing firm timelines throughout the process and standardizing reporting periods.
  • Ensured a fairer outcome for the complainants by establishing a more sensitive interview process and allowing affected persons to choose whether or not to have their interviews recorded.

Accountability Counsel will continue our work to ensure that both SECU and the SRM are fully, accessible, transparent, and fair, to the benefit of communities seeking redress for harms caused by UNDP projects.