5. Be clear on accountability


Notwithstanding the need for confidentiality, privacy and security where appropriate, e.g. during investigations, the hallmark of accountability and transparency is the availability of information.

Workshop participants have welcomed the UN’s public financial disclosure policy for senior staff and increasingly for the organization’s activities, as well as the harnessing of internal office information through online data systems that facilitate transitions during the turnover of staff.

Similar access to information on how decisions are made on e.g. recruitment and promotion, management policies, funding and fund allocation, will go further in strengthening the moral authority and staff morale of organizations. Moreover, they call for clear guidelines on what is to be expected of staff in working on accountability.

As such, some ideas are:

  • Clear guidance on staff legal obligations, especially vis-à-vis questions of immunity
  • Outline staff risks and responsibilities for sharing information with different classifications of interlocutors
  • Beyond the mandatory ethics training, and the Human Rights Up Front initiative, explore what voluntary actions can be taken to promote accountability of the UN/staff to beneficiaries e.g. with respect to compensation for cholera victims in Haiti, Roma populations in contaminated IDP camps in Kosovo, sexually abused children in the Central African Republic, or elephant poaching in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Disclose all information on the use of UN staff funds, including as invested through the UN Joint Staff Pension Fund and the UN Federal Credit Union
  • Report on trends in earmarked and un-earmarked donor funds and their uses
  • Widely publicize rules on staff discipline for ethical breaches, as well as avenues for internal justice mechanisms

How much is accountability discussed in your team?


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