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Ethics office

Protection Against Retaliation

Reporting Misconduct or Cooperating with Audits or Investigations

The protection against retaliation policy covers retaliation for reporting misconduct and for cooperating with official UN audits or investigations.

Misconduct means the failure by a staff member to comply with their obligations under the Charter of the United Nations, the Staff Regulations and Staff Rules or other relevant administrative issuances, or to observe the standards of conduct expected of an international civil servant. As examples, misconduct includes acts such as fraud, theft, misuse of UN property, and sexual harassment. Misconduct also includes asking another individual to violate applicable rules and regulations. Misconduct does not include a colleague’s or supervisor’s refusal to agree with you concerning a policy matter or a management decision, or criticism concerning work performance.

You should not report misconduct to the Ethics Office. To be protected for reporting a violation of UN rules or regulations, a report must be made to a UN office authorized to receive and act upon reports of misconduct.  These include the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management, the head of Department or office concerned, or the focal point appointed to receive reports of sexual exploitation and abuse. If you report misconduct to the Ethics Office, you will be referred to the appropriate office.

The Office of the Ombudsman and Mediation Services, and the Management Evaluation Unit within the Office of the Under-Secretary-General of the Department of Management, are not appropriate offices for reporting misconduct as they are not mandated to receive such reports or to initiate investigations.

Under certain conditions, protection against retaliation may be extended to individuals who report misconduct to bodies outside of the UN, such as to domestic law enforcement or the media.

A report of misconduct must include information or evidence indicating that the UN’s rules and regulations have been violated. The reporting of unsubstantiated rumours or gossip is not a report of misconduct.

Staff are also protected for cooperating with official audits or investigations sanctioned by the UN.  This includes not only OIOS audits and investigations, but also independent external evaluations, such as the Independent Inquiry Committee that investigated the UN Oil-for-Food Programme.

To contact us, please call our Helpline: +1-917-367-9858 or email us: ethicsoffice@un.org.

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