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What is misconduct?

Definition of misconduct

The United Nations defines misconduct as “any failure by a staff member to comply with his or her obligations under the Charter of the United Nations, the Staff Regulations and Staff Rules or other administrative issuances, or to observe the standards of conduct expected of an international civil servant.”

Failure by a staff member to comply with their obligations or to observe the standards of conduct expected of an international civil servant may amount to misconduct and may lead to the institution of a disciplinary process and the imposition of disciplinary measures for misconduct, administrative measures and/or managerial action.

Types of misconduct

Possible misconduct can include:

  • Sexual exploitation and abuse of people of concern.
  • Fraud (e.g. falsifying a document to obtain a benefit).
  • Corruption (e.g. taking money from refugees or others).
  • Fraud related to the registration and resettlement process.
  • Theft and embezzlement (e.g. stealing equipment or money).
  • Workplace harassment (e.g. treating staff members in an unfair manner).
  • Sexual harassment (e.g. unwelcome sexual behaviour).
  • Abuse of authority (e.g. showing favouritism or discrimination against staff).
  • Assault upon or threats to others.
  • Misuse of UNHCR assets.
  • Breach of confidentiality.
  • Acts or behaviour that would discredit UNHCR.
  • Non-compliance with local laws.
  • Conflict of interest.
  • Abuse of privileges and immunities.
  • Gross negligence.
  • Unauthorized outside activities or employment.

In particular, financial fraud, registration and resettlement fraud, corruption, sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) and sexual harassment are considered serious misconduct, whether by UNHCR personnel, partner staff or vendors/contractors.

Read more about how to report misconduct, including sexual exploitation, abuse and sexual harassment.