Supporting Strategies — Ethics


Revision of the ICAO Service Code and other activities: As part of the Organization’s continuing effort to promote ethical leadership and an organizational culture of transparency, integrity and accountability at ICAO, at the seventh meeting of its 220th Session, (C-DEC 220/7 refers), the Council adopted the consolidated text of the revised ICAO Service Code as decided by the Council on 22 May 2020 (C-DEC 220/1 refers). Among other things, the revised ICAO Framework on Ethics provided for the direct reporting of all complaints of misconduct to the Investigations Division of the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), accordingly the Ethics Officer was no longer responsible to receive reports of misconduct, and the Investigations Committee which was established on 29 June 2018 was abolished;

The Council also tasked the Secretary General to finalize two separate Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with the OIOS and the United Nations Ethics Office (UNEO) and to transfer, with immediate effect, all pending misconduct cases to OIOS subject to their consent to manage and address them before finalization of the respective MoU. On 3 July 2020, all four cases of misconduct which were pending with the then Acting Ethics Officer and the Investigations Committee were transferred to OIOS in accordance with the decision of the Council. Furthermore, in its effort to establish MoUs with the OIOS and UNEO, the Secretariat engaged in ad hoc negotiations with those offices and draft versions of the MoUs were developed and under review.

Finally, the Council requested the Secretary General to implement an action plan to address sexual harassment in the Organization, including a zero tolerance policy for sexual harassment that adheres to the spirit of the relevant United Nations policy. In this context, the Secretariat started to review Personnel Instruction PI/1.3 (Policy statement on the prevention of sexual harassment). The Secretariat also initiated the review of the Staff Rules and Personnel Instructions to align them with the provisions of the revised ICAO Framework on Ethics. In this regard, it updated Section 1 of the Personnel Instruction PI/1.6 (Procedures in relation to the ICAO Framework on Ethics), which takes into consideration the revised procedures for dealing with misconduct cases referred back by the Office of Internal Oversight Services and the disciplinary process.

The Council also established a Small Group on the Ethics Framework Review, which worked on the drafting of Appendices G, H and I to the Rules of Procedures for the Council containing proposed rules and procedures to address allegations of misconduct or retaliation against the Secretary General and the President of the Council.

Following a transparent recruitment process, including the review by the Human Resources Committee (HRC) of the concerned selection report, a new Ethics Officer was appointed effective 1 September 2020.

During the reporting period, the Council reviewed the Annual report of the Ethics Officer, unchanged by the Secretary General, together with any comments of the Secretary General thereon.

Advisory Services: The Ethics Office held numerous in-person and virtual meetings with staff wherein professional, experienced, timely, confidential and tailored ethics advice and guidance on a range of issues were provided. Starting in September 2020, the types of advice and guidance provided were categorized as either: “Management” (queries by a member of ICAO personnel in her/his official capacity), or “Individual” (queries more personal in nature). During the last quarter of 2020, 63 advisories were recorded, comprising 32 Management, and 31 Individual queries (including those that originated from the Financial Disclosure programme).

Policy Guidance: To integrate ethical considerations institutionally, the Ethics Office provided guidance to reflect ethical considerations in policies, practices and processes, including through advice to the Secretary General and organs of the Council. In this context, the Ethics Office provided guidance and substantive support in the effort to reform the Ethics Framework in order to better align it with United Nations best practice. Furthermore, following Council approval of the revised Ethics Framework, and in coordination with relevant services of the Secretariat, the Ethics Office provided input to the revisions of the existing regulatory framework in order to align the provisions with the revised Ethics Framework. The Ethics Office submitted proposals for the revision of Staff Rule 110.1 and relevant Personnel Instructions, such as PI/1.3 on Policy statement on the prevention of sexual harassment, PI/1.3.1 on Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse; and PI/1.6 on Procedures in relation to the ICAO Framework on Ethics. During the last quarter of 2020, the Ethics Office provided input on 33 policy issues, in various forms (policies, Personnel Instructions and other administrative issuances and documentation) and on a range of topics. This also included five proactive ex officio recommendations involving different subjects, such as the establishment of a code of conduct to prevent harassment, including sexual harassment, at ICAO events; due diligence; and acceptance of gifts. In addition, the Ethics Office submitted to the Secretariat a proposal for the creation of an ICAO pre-appointment conflict of interest disclosure process. This would be aimed at efficiently identifying, avoiding and/or mitigating any actual, perceived or potential conflict of interest or any other incompatibility that candidates for ICAO positions may have prior to their appointment by ICAO, to enable both management and the candidate to make informed decisions.

Training and outreach: In coordination with the Bureau of Administration and Services (ADB), in August 2020 the Ethics Office launched a new set of ethics and integrity training sessions for staff members and leaders: Leading Ethically at ICAO, designed for staff members at the P-5 level and above; and Working Ethically at ICAO, intended for all other staff members without managerial or supervisory responsibilities. Each training module was developed in conjunction with a specialized external provider, and was delivered virtually in two 90-minute sessions over two days. A total of 25 sessions was conducted, and attendance by 746 ICAO personnel was recorded. The Ethics Office also started the revision of two online mandatory training courses (i.e., Module 1: The ICAO Framework on Ethics, and Module 2: Leadership), as their content is significantly outdated and does not take into account the latest revisions to the Ethics Framework.

With regard to outreach initiatives, the Ethics Office maintained and updated a dedicated intranet site for the benefit of ICAO personnel. This includes, among others, information on the different areas of the mandate of the Ethics Office, a range of multimedia tools to communicate the principles and values of the Organization, and dedicated pages on important topics such as conflicts of interest; outside activity; diversity and inclusion; promoting a positive workplace; and sexual harassment. In early December 2020, the Ethics Office issued a holiday season gift advisory message to all ICAO personnel, reminding staff of the regulatory framework on acceptance of gifts, as well as of the importance to always be mindful of their independence and impartiality as international civil servants and not to create the impression that a benefit could influence their professional actions or decisions.

Financial Disclosure programmes: Different from the majority of other United Nations entities, the financial disclosure and conflict of interest declaration programme (“FDP”) of ICAO is a paper-based exercise, usually launched in the first quarter of each calendar year. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the incompatibility of remote working with a paper-based exercise, the launch of the FDP was delayed until December 2020. The Ethics Officer is exploring alternative solutions, including the possibility to procure a secure and confidential third party online system.

United Nations Coherence: The Ethics Office continued to be engaged in the work of the Ethics Network of Multilateral Organizations (ENMO), including during the 2020 Annual Conference, which focused, inter alia, on innovative practices in promoting a respectful workplace environment free of harassment, abuse or intimidation, and on the management of confidential information versus requirements from oversight organs. The Ethics Officer also continued to represent ICAO on the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) task force on sexual harassment, and provided guidance to the Secretary General on this topic. The Ethics Officer recommended to the Secretary General the launch of the first Leadership Dialogue, which is a yearly initiative developed by the United Nations Secretariat in 2013 to engage managers in conversation with their direct reports regarding the ethical challenges staff face in their day-to-day work. The topic of the dialogue (i.e., Acknowledging Dignity through Civility: How can I communicate for a more harmonious workplace?) was our shared responsibility to create a more effective and mutually respectful work environment at all levels. In coordination with the United Nations Ethics Office (UNEO), the Ethics Office also developed the relevant material, including separate leaders’ and participants’ guides.

Protection against retaliation: No allegations or reports of retaliation were received in 2020.

Cases of misconduct handled by the Ethics Office between 1 January 2020 and 9 July 2020: Until 9 July 2020, the Ethics Officer’s responsibilities included the handling of reported cases of misconduct, including initial screening and, if required, referral to the then Investigations Committee. With the entry into effect of the revised Ethics Framework, such tasks have been transferred to an independent investigative entity. Consequently, the Ethics Office is no longer involved in the handling and investigation of allegations of misconduct.

New Reports of Misconduct received in 2020: Between 1 January 2020 and 9 July 2020, the Ethics Office received a total of five new reports of misconduct against staff members. One case was referred by the Investigations Committee to the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) for investigation following its review of the Ethics Officer’s preliminary report. The remaining four reports of misconduct were transferred directly to OIOS on 3 July 2020 further to the Council’s decision to that effect (C-DEC 220/7 refers).

Reports of misconduct carried over from 2019: Eleven pending reports of misconduct were carried over from 2019 into 2020. The Ethics Office conducted preliminary reviews of all eleven reports which were presented to the then Investigations Committee for decision during its meetings held on 30 January 2020 and 6 April 2020. Of the total of eleven reports of misconduct, six were closed by the Investigations Committee, three were referred to the Secretary General for administrative action, and two were referred to OIOS for investigation.

Cases under disciplinary process:Under the previous regime, the Ethics Officer also played a central role in the disciplinary process implemented by the Organization following receipt of an investigation report which substantiates allegations of misconduct against a staff member, including the review of five cases for which a disciplinary process was initiated.

Cases of misconduct handled by OIOS: The United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) provided investigation services in 2020 covering allegations of misconduct implicating ICAO personnel or misconduct committed by third parties to the detriment of ICAO.

In 2020, OIOS recorded 17 cases of misconduct involving ICAO, compared to the 14 registered in 2019. Of the matters received in 2020, six were predicated for investigation, three were referred to ICAO for appropriate action, two remain in assessment, and six were recorded for information.

Personnel related issues accounted for the most frequent type of misconduct; specifically, acts or behaviour that caused reputational damage (five cases), failure to disclose conflict of interest (two cases), office disputes (two cases) or substantial violations of UN rules and regulations (two cases). The second most common type of misconduct seen in ICAO cases during the reporting period relate to prohibited conduct; specifically, abuse of authority (five cases), harassment (four cases) or discrimination (three cases). In 2020, OIOS recorded no new cases of sexual exploitation and abuse, or sexual harassment at ICAO. Sixty-five per cent of misconduct reports received were recorded as taking place in Canada, 18 per cent in France, and the remainder in Senegal, Thailand or the United States. Five ICAO investigations were closed in 2020 with an average completion time of five months. Three of the investigations related to fraud, one related to sexual harassment, and one to prohibited conduct (harassment and abuse of authority). Six ICAO investigations remain open as at 31 December 2020.

Actions taken in response to complaints of misconduct: During 2020 eight cases were closed either by the Investigations Committee or the external investigative entity (OIOS). In one case, a disciplinary measure was imposed on a staff member who had behaved aggressively towards, and had created a hostile work environment for, another staff member, and who had also engaged in a consistent pattern of hostile interpersonal engagement. Finally, in three cases, administrative measures were taken, including informal resolution, enhanced ethics training, and team-building exercises. The first case resulted from a breakdown in interpersonal relations between two staff members. The second case related to a complaint from one staff member against another, concerning harassment and insubordination. The third involved allegations of harassment of one staff member against another

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