New code for civic groupsKorea’s five civic organizations, namely the Citizens’ Coalition for Economic Justice, the Christian Ethics Move-ment, Green Future, the Korean YMCA and the Young Korean Academy, announced a charter and a code of conduct yesterday in which they promise to fulfill their social responsibility as non-governmental organizations.
They will go through internal reforms to get rid of their self-righteousness, for which they have long been criticized; publicize their structure and work transparently, and listen to citizens’ opinions humbly, they said.
This is welcomed by society. As written in their own charter, civic organizations’ raison d’etre depends on the quality of their work and citizens’ support for them. In particular, this year when there is a presidential election, civic organizations are required to stay politically more neutral and independent than usual. The civic groups must maintain these values in order to grow in the right direction.
In the code of conduct, the civic groups emphasized that they need to work for citizens; they have to have the right attitude to learn about reality based on facts; they have to abide by principles, and they must remain independent. It is worth noting that they have now set the regulation that senior members of civic groups cannot register for political parties, and cannot work as government officials at the same time. If they want to enter politics, they have to resign at least six months before doing so. The code regulates their financial dependency on other bodies, a crucial rule in order for civic groups to remain independent of interest groups.
The question is their implementation of these. As civic groups have gained more political and social influence, distrust and criticism of them also has grown stronger. That is because civic groups’ ideas have not proceeded into action. Despite long-time criticism, the groups’ deep-rooted problems have only worsened; figures from the civic groups have moved to the government, civic groups have received government subsidies, they are politically biased or charged, and there is a lack of regular citizen participation in civic movements.
Civic groups say they will form a committee to encourage implementation of the code of conduct and send a warning to civic organizations that violate regulations. They also plan to draw an index to evaluate how civic groups meet their responsibilities. We hope the five civic groups and other civic organizations will abide by their code of conduct so they will be reborn as new civic organizations that people trust and respect.