At a time when major organizations around the world are taking a closer look at corporate governance issues, the United Nations today launched its own initiative to mainstream ethics and integrity throughout its family of agencies and funds.
To match its efforts at the forefront of the battle against fraud and corruption around the world, the United Nations announced its "Organizational Integrity Initiative," which will allow the world body to apply internally the emerging approaches on corruption control and to build organizational integrity.
Previewing the programme at a press conference at UN Headquarters in New York, Dileep Nair, Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), said that integrity and ethics were a high priority for the UN and a crucial ingredient in Secretary-General Kofi Annan's ongoing efforts to reform the Organization and strengthen the culture of high performance, accountability and results.
Mr. Nair, who was joined by Ambassador Ole Peter Kolby of Norway, whose Government is providing financial support for the Initiative, said the plan came at a time when major organizations around the world - public as well as private - were taking a closer look at corporate governance issues.
The new programme had been designed as a step that would show the United Nations was "doing what it preaches" when its development agencies addressed Member States in the field of good governance, Mr. Nair added. It included diagnostic training, publicity, enforcement and early detection measures, as well as perception surveys.
A major component of the Initiative is the Executive Programme on Corruption Control and Organizational Integrity, which will be held in mid-June at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. Key UN officials will participate in the event, which will be taught by leading experts and practitioners in the field. Upon their return from the programme, the UN officials will be expected to lead similar initiatives in the future. Training will also be provided for the wider UN staff.
Asked why the world body found it necessary to integrate such a plan now, Mr. Nair replied that, while the majority of UN staff were people of high integrity, it was no secret that there were instances of fraud and corruption within the system, which was one of the reasons why the Office of Internal Oversight Service had been established.
"The United Nations wants to take proactive steps to prevent those issues from becoming a real problem and to raise the integrity within the Organization even higher," he said. "In a way, the Initiative is an attempt to inoculate the Organization against the possible cancer of corruption."