Strengthening Learning and Accountability

Ethics Office

Ethics Office
©UNRWA Photos

Mission

The capacity UNRWA to help Palestine refugees achieve their full potential in human development depends, amongst other things, on the ability of its staff to uphold and promote the highest standards of ethical and professional conduct. Respect for standards of conduct helps to create the trust that allows UNRWA to effectively support refugees, contributes towards building a harmonious workplace and is critical for preserving and enhancing public confidence in the Agency.

The overall objective of the Ethics Office is to assist the Commissioner-General in fostering an ethical environment whereby all employees observe and perform their functions with the highest standards of integrity as required by the Charter of the UN, the Standards of Conduct for the International Civil Service, the Area and International Staff Rules and Regulations and UNRWA Ethics Handbook.

Established in 2009, the Ethics Office is administratively attached to the Department of Internal Oversight Services (DIOS), although it operates independently and with full impartiality and confidentiality as required by ST/ SGB/2007/11 and Organization Directive No. 30 [ADD HYPERLINK – see doc below].

The Ethics Office has full and unrestricted access to the Commissioner-General and provides regular updates of the Office’s work plan and achievements to the Advisory Committee of Internal Oversight (ACIO), which represents a measure of oversight with respect to its functioning and further enhances the independence of the Office. The Ethics Office is also a member of and collaborates with the Ethics Panel of the United Nations (EPUN) to promote coherence of the Agency’s ethics-related policies, strategies and standards with those of the UN Secretariat and the other funds and programmes.

 

UNRWA Core Values and Guiding Principles

The standards of conduct applicable to UNRWA personnel are rooted in universal values of humanity as reflected in the United Nations Charter, in international human rights instruments, in UNRWA staff regulations and rules, and in other standards common to the international civil service. UNRWA employees are guided by the following fundamental core values and principles:

  1. Take pride in serving Palestine refugees
  2. Be part of the United Nations, ensuring that everyone’s conduct reflects the values enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations
  3. Be committed humanitarian workers, applying the four universal principles that serve as the foundation for all humanitarian action worldwide – Humanity; Neutrality; Impartiality; Operational independence
  4. Act and serve with integrity. This includes honesty, truthfulness, fairness and incorruptibility
  5. Respect the human rights, dignity and worth of all persons and protect the rights of Palestine refugees
  6. Build strong and respectful working relationships with colleagues, host governments and local organisations
  7. Respect local culture whilst being faithful to UN values

 

UNRWA- Ethics Office Responsibilities

The Ethics Office fulfils this mission by providing services to management and individual staff members in the following five areas:

  1. Confidential ethics advice and guidance: The Ethics Office assists personnel to uphold the highest levels of integrity, efficiency and competence by providing confidential advice on relevant standards of conduct. It does so by helping staff to make decisions consistent with the values and rules of the Agency. The Ethics Office provides advice on a broad range of issues, including conflicts of interest, engagement in outside activities, prohibited conduct (harassment, including sexual harassment and abuse of power), workplace issues and other employment-related concerns. It also provides advice and support to management to ensure that the Agency’s rules, policies, procedures and practices reinforce and promote the standards of integrity called for under the Charter of the United Nations
  2. Financial and outside interest disclosure: The Ethics Office helps prevent conflicts of interest through annual financial and outside interest disclosure of personnel in positions of authority, or holding specific positions which entail financial decision making  
  3. Protection against retaliation (PaR): The UNRWA policy for PaR encourages personnel to report misconduct and/or cooperate with authorized audits or investigations, without fear of reprisal, The Ethics Office receives requests for PaR and conducts preliminary assessments.
  4. Training, education and outreach: The Ethics Office raises awareness and conducts training on ethical standards and expected behaviour through mandatory online learning courses, face-to-face training, workshops and targeted training support
  5. Policy support and standard setting: The Ethics Office advises and supports management in the development of policies, strategies, and standards that promote integrity

The Ethics Office also has a number of responsibilities related to the Agency’s policies on protection from sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) of beneficiaries and on the prohibition of discrimination, harassment – including sexual harassment – and abuse of power in the work context.

 

What the Ethics Office does not do

The Ethics Office does not receive reports of misconduct – Staff members have a duty to report suspected misconduct to the responsible officials.

The Ethics Office does not resolve grievances – Staff members are encouraged to consult the Mediation Programme.

The Ethics Office does not deal with administrative decisions regarding employment – Staff members wishing to contest an administrative decision should seek resolution through informal channels or formally by requesting a decision review through their respective Field Director (for field staff) or Director of Human Resources (for HQ staff).

 

How the Ethics Office Operates:

The Ethics Office provides a secure confidential environment where UNRWA staff can feel free to consult on ethical issues and seek protection against retaliation for reporting misconduct. The office is also a resource for those who seek advice before engaging in an activity, to avoid and manage conflicts of interest.

The Ethics Office:

  • is independent from management and all other UN offices
  • is impartial in how it treats individuals
  • maintains confidentiality of the information entrusted to it
  • is professional in its dealings with its stakeholders

 

To contact the Ethics Office, you can email: ethicsoffice@unrwa.org

If you are UNWRA staff, you can find more info on the Ethics Office Intranet Page

 

Document library and external links

All Annual Reports of the Ethics Office are attached to the DIOS Annual Reports [Add Hyperlink to Annual Reports Page]

ST/ SGB/2007/11

ST/ SGB/2007/11/Amendment

Organization Directive No. 30

Ethics Panel of the United Nations (EPUN)