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Principles governing the work of an ombudsman

Independence Neutrality and Impartiality Confidentiality Informality

Independence:
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.

Confidentiality:
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.)

Informality:
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.