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Principles governing the work of an ombudsman

Independence Neutrality and Impartiality Confidentiality Informality

In the exercise of her/his duties, an ombudsman is independent in structure and function of all United Nations organs or officials. She/he has direct access to the Secretary-General.

Neutrality and Impartiality:
An ombudsman is a designated neutral and does not take the side of any party in a conflict. An ombudsman does not make decisions, create or change policies or mandate actions. An ombudsman reviews each situation objectively and treats all parties equally.

An ombudsman does not keep records for the United Nations or any other party. She/he does not disclose information about individual cases or visits from employees without permission from the employee and cannot be compelled to testify about concerns brought to her/his attention. (The only exceptions, at the sole discretion of an ombudsman, are when there is imminent threat of serious harm.)

An ombudsman, as an informal resource, does not participate in any formal adjudicative or administrative procedure relating to concerns brought to his/her attention.

These principles are based on the Code of Ethics developed by the International Ombudsman Association.