Guiding Principles

Every actor operates on the basis of fundamental principles, whether plainly stated or implicitly understood. Further, an examination of organizations that are held in universal esteem reveals a great commonality in these principles. In other words, to a great extent, good Chambers from throughout the world tend to share the same fundamental assumptions or beliefs that make their successful operation possible. The following is an articulation of the more important of these shared fundamental principles.

A. Responsibility, Service, and Public Mindedness

Sustainable progress, peace, and justice require that all organizations contribute to the common good. Thus, an Chamber should integrate self-development and service to others, balancing individual and public concerns, focusing on higher, broader, and more public levels of service.

Responsibly maintaining itself, an Chamber should conduct its activities for the sake of others, whether for the public at large or a particular segment of the public.

Public money must not be misused for selfish purposes and all public assets are to be treated with utmost seriousness, as a public trust.

An Chamber should recognize that its conduct and activities impact on the public’s perception of Chambers and that it shares responsibility for the public’s trust of Chambers.

An Chamber should exhibit a responsible and caring attitude toward the environment in all of its activities.

B. Cooperation Beyond Boundaries

Significant progress toward world peace and global well-being can be fostered through inter-religious, intercultural, and interracial work, and across artificial barriers of politics and ethnicity that tend to separate people and their institutions. Chambers should maintain ethical, cooperative relationships with other Chambers, and should partner where possible and appropriate for the sake of the greater public good.

An Chamber should be willing to work beyond borders of politics, religion, culture, race and ethnicity, within the limits of the organizing documents and with organizations and individuals that share common values and objectives.

C. Human Rights and Dignity

As the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, are endowed with reason and conscience, and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1) The family is the fundamental natural group unit of society promoting human rights and human dignity. (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 16)

An Chamber should not violate any person’s fundamental human rights, with which each person is endowed.

An Chamber should recognize that all people are born free and equal in dignity.

An Chamber should be sensitive to the moral values, religion, customs, traditions, and culture of the communities they serve.

An Chamber should respect the integrity of families and support family-based life.

D. Religious Freedom

“Everyone has the right of freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.” (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 18)

An Chamber should respect religious freedom.

E. Transparency and Accountability

Chambers should strive for openness and honesty internally and toward donors and members of the public. Periodic accountings should be made.

An Chamber should be transparent in all of its dealings with the government, the public, donors, partners, beneficiaries, and other interested parties, except for personnel matters and proprietary information.

An Chamber’s basic financial information, governance structure, activities, and listing of officers and partnerships shall be open and accessible to public scrutiny and the Chamber is to make effort to inform the public about its work and the origin and use of its resources.

An Chamber should be accountable for its actions and decisions, not only to its funding agencies and the government, but also to the people it serves, its staff and members, partner organizations, and the public at large.

F. Truthfulness and Legality

An Chamber should be honest and truthful in its dealings with its donors, project beneficiaries, staff, membership, partner organizations, government, and the public in general, and should respect the laws of any jurisdiction in which it is active.

An Chamber should give out accurate information, whether regarding itself and its projects, or regarding any individual, organization, project, or legislation it opposes or is discussing.

An NGO should fulfill its obligations under the laws of the nation in which it is organized or works, and must be strongly opposed to, and not be a willing partner to, corruption, bribery, and other financial improprieties or illegalities.

An Chamber should have a policy for staff and volunteers to confidentially bring evidence to the governing body of misconduct of anyone associated with the organization.

An Chamber should meet all of the legal obligations in the countries in which it is organized or works. Such obligations may include laws of incorporation, fundraising legislation, equal employment opportunity principles, health and safety standards, privacy rules, trademark and copyright legislation, and so forth.

An Chamber should take prompt corrective action whenever wrongdoing is discovered among its staff, governing body, volunteers, contractors, and partners.