Top UN officials back system-wide approach on ethics, information disclosure

Top UN officials back system-wide approach on ethics, information disclosure

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and top officials from the funds and programmes of the United Nations system have agreed on the need for a system-wide approach on ethics and for the disclosure of information, as part of a process to render the entire system more effective and coherent in its business practices.

Mr. Ban believes that it is “crucially important for the UN system to uphold the highest ethical standards,” according to a statement issued following a two-day meeting of the Chief Executives Board CEB of top officials from across the UN, which the Secretary-General chaired.

The statement adds that the UN and its funds and programmes “had agreed to establish one ethical code and one system of ethics within which they will all operate,” and that specialized agencies had also expressed an interest in such an approach.

Mr. Ban is expected to issue a bulletin on the new system of ethics shortly.

At its meeting held from 26 to 27 October in New York, the (CEB) – composed of the executive heads of all UN specialized agencies, funds and programmes as well as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and World Trade Organization – also discussed the disclosure of information contained in internal audit reports following intensive consultations among the UN system’s internal auditors.

Member of the CEB – most of whom have their own governing bodies, made up of Member States, who decide whether to release internal audits – agreed to move toward the development of “a common policy for the disclosure of information that would also take into account the particularities among the various organizations,” according to the statement.

Individual organizations would approach their respective governing bodies in this regard.

The need for a common ethics code among all UN entities has gained increased attention in recent months along with issues relating to whistleblower protection and the disclosure of information by various entities that make up the larger UN system.

Member States, at the 2005 World Summit, urged a scrupulous application of existing standards of conduct and the development of a system-wide code of ethics for all UN personnel.

Among its other decisions, the Board decided to establish a process for the evaluation of the “One UN” pilot projects, which would yield relevant and timely information from all stakeholders on lessons learned in order to enhance country-level coherence of operational activities for development.

It also agreed to work expeditiously towards the development of an agreed strategic approach by the UN system to support international commitments to meet the immense challenges presented by climate change.

On management issues, the CEB adopted an ambitious programme for the harmonization of UN system business practices in the areas of human resources, information and communication technology, and finance and budget.

Initiatives for the harmonization of practices related to procurement and legal matters will be added to the programme in coming months.