INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS OF DISTINGUISHED AWARDS PHILADELPHIA, USA
STANDARDS AND PRACTICES FOR CERTIFIED AWARDS AND AWARD PROGRAMS
Issued September 2004; updated 2014
Recognizing that any individual, corporation, organization, or institution throughout the world is free to establish and promote awards or other forms of recognition for human achievement in any or all of the realms of human endeavor; and
Acknowledging that there presently exist hundreds of thousands of awards and prizes and other methods of recognition, most having been created and perpetuated over the past two centuries; and
Whereas the International Congress of Distinguished Awards (ICDA) was established in 1994 as a not-for-profit educational corporation for the study and evaluation of awards throughout the world and for the dissemination of high standards, ethical principles, and sound practices among institutions presenting awards and managing award programs;
To teach and disseminate good practices across the world of awards, The International Congress of Distinguished Awards developed the following outline of uniform standards of conduct and good practices to facilitate the adoption of globally accepted standards that will inform those individuals and organizations responsible for or involved in the adjudication of awards (trustees, directors, juries and administrators) of those guidelines that should be strictly adhered to in presenting awards or managing award programs; and
That the ICDA intends in the future to make use of these standards of conduct and practices (and their future iterations) in evaluating awards that may from time to time be designated (i.e., certified) by ICDA as “certified awards” or “certified award programs”; and
As provided in its charter, ICDA will hereafter maintain a program of evaluation and examination that will lead to the certification and, from time to time, the re-certification of previously certified awards and award programs.
Awards and Award Programs in any state or nation, in any realm of concentration or field of study, and without respect to the size of any monetary prize or other benefit that may be presented along with an award are encouraged to attain and consistently meet these general standards of excellence in recognizing human achievement:
Definition of Human Achievement
In these standards human achievement is understood to be a single, unique achievement, a special body of achievements, or a life time of achievements in realms including the arts, humanities, literature, science, engineering, technology, medicine, peace, environment, religion, and similar fields of endeavor. Human achievements in many realms may be works of art or the achievements of a team or a group of individuals. Specifically excluded from consideration under these standards are achievements that are purely sports or entertainment in nature, military endeavors, or honorary degrees and other honorifics presented by educational institutions. Achievements under these categories are seen by ICDA as deserving their own carefully-developed body or standards informed by the general principles enunciated in the standards outlined here below.
Qualities of Achievement Recognized
Human achievements eligible for recognition are limited to those in honorable realms where human knowledge is expanded; the human condition is better understood; discoveries are made that will provide health and succor to the peoples and living beings of the earth; that will help humanity understand the origins, nature, and structure of the cosmos and all of the elemental structures in our universe; that will advance the production of visual arts and the presentation of performance arts that are essential in uplifting the human spirit; that foster innovations in technology, communication, and medical practices that enhance the life and well-being of individual human beings and human communities at large; and similar achievements that advance the development of a civilized and peaceful world. These intangible qualities of achievement are not intended to include other achievements of a practical and useful nature that essentially augment or improve the qualities of human life, of nature and the environment, and of the possibilities of communication and encounter among humans.
Organizations and institutions presenting awards for human achievement are responsible for articulating clearly how their awards contribute substantially to the advancement of humanity, humanitarian interests, the expansion of knowledge, and /or the improvement of human civilization.
Selection Criteria and Processes
Organizations and institutions presenting awards for human achievement are urged to establish criteria and procedures for meeting the following selection standards:
To select as recipients for their awards individuals, groups, or works that are judged purely on the merits of a single achievement, a body of achievements, or a lifetime of achievements without any other criteria or practice of favoritism (such as membership in favored organizations, acquaintanceship with trustees, or the cultivation of individuals for potential gifts and emoluments to the presenting organization).
To establish objective criteria for such achievements that will serve as the only standards of measurement in the process of selecting the recipients of awards and that can stand the tests of ethical propriety and public scrutiny; and to make these criteria available for the information and guidance of those potentially eligible for these awards and those who may nominate individuals or works for these awards.
To recruit and make use of a panel or panels of knowledgeable individuals who will be assigned the full and sole responsibility for establishing such objective criteria, the methods of evaluation, and for making the final selection of the recipients of these awards; excluding, specifically, employees of the program, donors or their official representatives of prizes for the awards, and any other individuals who cannot meet a test of reasonable objectivity in selecting laureates. Exempt from this exclusion are editors of peer reviewed publications and similar programs in which the “best” work is honored for outstanding achievement.
To assure that the sponsoring organization seeks candidates for awards on the basis of achievement alone and without respect to race, gender, ethnic origin, religious affiliation or other demographic characteristic, unless the award is established specifically to encourage achievement among specifically defined populations, such as citizens of a particular nation or geographic/geopolitical region, individuals writing in a particular language, artists pursuing a particular art form or performing a defined repertory or music or a particular musical instrument, and similar objective delimiters. Other definitions of populations such as political affiliation, a record of political disobedience leading to detention or imprisonment, or a refugee status should not be used as criteria for disqualifying otherwise qualified candidates for awards.
To assure that reference letters, reviewer’s reports, and the deliberations of selection panels are maintained as confidential records for a defined period of time (often 25 to 50 years) appropriate to the field of the achievement, or consistent with prevailing national and international laws regarding trade secrets and the protection of proprietary interests where these may apply. Since the deliberations of panels can be construed as evidence and be subpoenaed by a properly constituted court of law (especially where such deliberations may be used to establish precedence or responsibility for discoveries or inventions, presenting organization should adopt clear guidelines on the treatment and preservation of these records and how and when they are to be made available to scholars and the general public.
Communications, Promotion, Marketing, and Administration
Awards and award programs certified by the ICDA are able to demonstrate that they have adopted reasonable safeguards to achieve the following:
To assure that generally accepted standards of quality and practice are maintained in the development of materials promoting these awards and their recipients, in the design and character of awards presented, and in the dignity of presentation ceremonies.
To insure that proper records are maintained to document all actions taken and to be available in program, management, and financial audits as may be required by state or provincial laws chartering the sponsoring organization and by taxing agencies that review and certify the tax status of the organization.
To insure that adequate funds are made available for the proper administration and management of the award or award programs in relation to the size, the historical significance, and achieved dignity of the award and of the organization sponsoring the award.