Ethics workshop held at UNMOGIP
The United Nations expects its staff to maintain the highest ethical standards during their work. The director of the UN Ethics Office, Elia Yi Armstrong, gave a detailed presentation on ethical principles at UNMOGIP Headquarters in Islamabad on 10 November.
She said most UN staff members are honest people and they care about the high standards of ethics, but everybody needs a reminder. “If they see some bad behavior and it’s not addressed, they may think I can do this too,” she said.
Opportunistic misconduct and corruption can also happen in situations where there is no oversight and people are working in risky environments. “Some vendor may come to the office with a bribe and they might be tempted unless they are reminded and shown that this has repercussions,” she said.
UN staff members may face a question like, “Can I own a business or have investments in business ventures?” Ms. Armstrong explained a UN staff member should not be actively associated with holding a financial interest in any business or other concern if the entity has the opportunity to benefit from their position with the United Nations.
Another question she addressed was about receiving gifts. Ethical standards require that the staff members may not accept gifts from any government source. However, if refusal would cause embarrassment for the Organization, they may receive it on behalf of the Organization and then report and entrust it to the Secretary-General.
Staff members may not accept any gift, remuneration or favour from any source having or seeking to have any type of contractual relationship with the Organization.
The current Chief Transport Officer at UNMOGIP Patrick Frederick Mwanje, who has previously attended online trainings on ethics, said that this presentation was very useful because it was interactive and discussed real life situations. “I learnt that whistle blowers are protected. I also learnt where to report fraud and corruption,” he said.
If a staff member sees some misconduct, they could report it to the Head of Mission. If it is very serious and they do not wish to report within the Mission, they could report to the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) in New York or at one of its regional offices through a hotline or email.
Ms. Armstrong hopes that the workshop will be followed by more such trainings. The purpose is to make sure that all across the UN – in all the field operations and Headquarters – there is one set of standards.
In order to expand its outreach, the Ethics Office has developed easy to understand broadcast and written materials, which are also available on its website. “We also encourage staff to come to us with specific questions about themselves and their situation,” said Ms. Armstrong.
Advice and guidance rendered by the Ethics Office is confidential and is treated at all times as such.