The Ethics Function in the UN System

By Malika Aït-Mohamed Parent, 20 July 2020

Ethics – A key target during the on-going 2020 decade

In a recent research on the role of compliance in the Fight against Corruption in Aid[1], I observed that ‘Integrity’ was the leitmotiv of the 90s, as compared to ‘Accountability’ in the 2000s and ‘Transparency’ in the 2010s (with an ‘Hyper-transparency’ phenomenon at the end of the 2010 decade). One can anticipate that the driving concept for the on-going decade (the 2020s) will be ‘Compliance’ with a focus on ‘Ethics’.

Ethics issues surely cover multiple facets and are performed through multiple kinds of portfolio in different organisations. In the United Nation system, it is a growing portfolio, ensuring that all staff are fully aligned on a set of mission, vision and values.

The Ethics Office in the UN system

One can find in the UN Secretary General Bulletin, dated of 30 December 2005, the notification of the establishment and the terms of references of the Ethics Office[2] in reference to the UN General Assembly Decision 60/248[3].