Intergiry Awareness

Special Nature of Integrity at the United Nations

The concept of integrity enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations embraces all aspects of required behaviour of United Nations staff members, including such qualities as honesty, dedication to duty, loyalty, truthfulness, impartiality and incorruptibility.

The core idea of conduct befitting an international civil servant was established in the Charter of the United Nations in February 1946. Pursuant to the establishment of the Charter and the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations , the International Civil Service Advisory Board prepared a report in 1954 entitled Standards of Conduct in the International Civil Service. These standards for ethical conduct promote common values and define the behaviour and performance expected of international civil servants. Collectively, we are the United Nations and as staff members of the United Nations Secretariat, our responsibilities are not national but exclusively international.

The definition of a staff member who has integrity provided by the United Nations Competencies for the Future is someone who:

  • demonstrates the values of the United Nations in his/her daily activities and behaviour;
  • acts without consideration of personal gain;
  • resists undue political pressure in decision-making;
  • does not abuse power or authority;
  • stands by decisions that are in the Organization's interest, even if they are unpopular;
  • takes prompt actions in cases of unprofessional or unethical behaviour.

Standards of Conduct in the International Civil Service

When core values are ignored and it appears that staff are acting improperly, the negative impact on the Organization can be enormous. United Nations staff members are expected to be dedicated to the Organization's goals, to be loyal, honest, thoughtful, purposeful, impartial and incorruptible. Integrity has become the focus of much attention by the Organization. Great emphasis is now placed on accountability, ethics, standards of conduct, and monitoring and reporting of violations.

How do we demonstrate integrity? We must exemplify the United Nations core values in our own conduct and comply with United Nations policies and procedures, even when we do not agree with them. The Integrity Awareness Initiative encourages staff members to demonstrate the strength of character to take action in instances when it would be easier to ignore the problem.

Inappropriate actions of one of our colleagues damage the reputation of all of us. A staff member who fails to conduct himself/herself in accordance with the United Nations' core values is not acting with the interests of the Organization in mind.

Why have Standards of Conduct in the International Civil Service ?

The Standards of Conduct in the International Civil Service are intended to be a central guide and reference for United Nations staff in support of day-to-day behaviour and decision-making. They are meant to clarify the Organization's mission, values and principles, linking them with standards of professional conduct. As a sourced reference, they can be used to locate relevant documents, services and other resources related to ethics within the Organization.

The Charter of the United Nations and the Standards of Conduct in the International Civil Service are an open disclosure of the way the Organization operates and provide explicit guidelines for behaviour. They both also serve as important communication vehicles that reflect the covenant that the Organization has made to uphold its most important values. They deal with such matters as the Organization's commitment to staff members, its standards for serving the world and doing business and its relationship with its immediate community.

This Integrity Awareness Initiative and the Standards of Conduct in the International Civil Service are tools to encourage discussion of ethics and to improve how staff members deal with ethical dilemmas, prejudices and grey areas that are encountered in everyday work. Both are meant to complement relevant standards, policies and rules, not to substitute for them.

Strategy for Increasing Integrity Awareness at the United Nations

The initiative is designed to provide direction in applying United Nations core values in day-to-day situations. It is not intended to be exhaustive. Not every issue raised in the Initiative will be relevant to every staff member - certain areas will be more applicable to some than to others. But all of us must familiarize ourselves with the concept of core values of the United Nations and satisfy the Organization that we understand and are complying with its principles.

The Organization is encouraging staff members to demonstrate the strength of character to take action in instances when the easiest course would be to ignore the problem. Accordinglyupon completion of the awareness initiative we would expect all staff members:

  • to contribute feedback on problem areas and suggest areas of improvements;
  • to listen to and act on the concerns of co-workers, clients and Member States, ensuring that all pertinent information receives proper attention;
  • to model their behaviour on United Nations core values; and
  • to have the tools for detecting, reporting on and addressing accountability problems.

The Integrity Awareness Initiative aims at creating the requisite behaviour in the areas below. Staff members will study each area by reviewing the modules below and then "certify" their completion by taking the Integrity Challenge.