The aim of this study is to investigate the rights-based approach to development and how its embedded promise of self-determination is enacted in the accountability relationships between NGOs and their beneficiaries. In doing so, the study seeks to highlight accountability as a process that enacts a specified promise. This occurs not simply in terms of promising to provide an account of conduct or behaviour; instead the promise can stem from moral responsibilities, ones which have transformational and societal implications, and initiate strategic choices (for example, appropriate accounting practices) regarding the enactment of this promise (Brown & Moore, 2001; Dubnick, 2005). This conceptualisation of accountability is proposed as particularly relevant in the context of rights-based NGOs as this development approach has important moral, societal and strategic implications for the manner in which NGOs are accountable to their beneficiaries. The study uses insights from transformative learning theory (Mezirow, 1978) to understand how the promise of self-determination is enacted in these accountability relationships. It presents two case studies of NGOs – RuralLife and Unison - who sought to transform their target communities into active, engaged and self-determined citizens with the support of grassroots accountability practices of monitoring and evaluation.