Frequently Asked Questions
What are our core values?
Professionalism, Integrity and Respect. These values – our ethos – have been identified by Secretariat members themselves and represent the culture that we strive for in the Council of Europe. They are an ideal and a reference point for all Secretariat members, but they need to be translated into guiding rules that can be applied in practice. The Ethics framework of the Council of Europe is built on these core values, as well as our Staff Regulations and Rules.
Why ethical norms and values?
There are many reasons for establishing ethical norms and conduct in any organisation and the Council of Europe is no exception in this regard. For example, ethical behaviour builds credibility and reputation in relation to our various stakeholders (member States and other interlocutors, NGOs, experts, service providers, etc.) as well as in relation to the wider public. Additionally, an organisation known for its ethical practices is more likely to attract attention for its main activities. A strong ethical culture – “doing the right thing” – may also help foster a positive work environment and a strong commitment among all those involved in our activities.
What is the Ethics framework of the Council of Europe?
The Ethics framework, which builds on the Staff Regulations, Staff Rules, and our core values, consists of the following instruments:
- The Code of Conduct, which is the central pillar of the ethics framework and for upholding our common values - ethos - of professionalism, through integrity and respect;
- The Speak Up Policy (whistle-blowing policy) sets out the Council of Europe’s guidelines for reporting wrongdoing and ensuring protection for those who report it;
- The Policy on Respect and Dignity describes expected standards (respect, politeness, fair treatment, etc.). It also defines disrespectful behaviour, harassment and other forms of unacceptable conduct and sets out the avenues of support available;
- The Policy on Diversity (yet to come);
- The Policy on the Use of Social Media, deals with both institutional and personal use of social media.
To whom and where does the Ethics framework apply?
The Ethics Framework applies to all Secretariat members (permanent and temporary staff members, seconded officials, trainees and study visitors). Other persons participating in Council of Europe activities (e.g. members of Council of Europe organs, bodies, committees and working groups as well as consultants and other contractors) are expected to uphold the ethical standards that apply in all premises of the Council of Europe and during missions, events, conferences, etc.
What does the Ethics Officer do?
The Ethics Officer is the focal point for ethics in the Council of Europe. The main tasks consist of providing independent advice to Secretariat members and other persons participating in Council of Europe activities on ethical dilemmas that they come across in their daily functions. The advice is always provided on a confidential basis.
The Ethics Officer also provides strategic advice to the Secretary General and the Organisation as part of the overall monitoring of the effectiveness of the ethical standards, etc. Furthermore, the Ethics Officer is instrumental in awareness raising and training in respect of ethics in cooperation with the Directorate of Human Resources.
What does the Ethics Officer not do?
The Ethics Officer does not deal with allegations or complaints concerning harassment, which is a responsibility of the Directorate of Human Resources, nor with examinations and investigations of wrongdoing, fraud and corruption, which are to be dealt with by the Directorate of Internal Oversight. That said, the Ethics Officer has a broad mandate as the focal point for ethics and may often be a first step for getting confidential advice concerning these matters as well.
Who can consult the Ethics Officer?
All Secretariat members (permanent and temporary staff members, seconded officials, trainees and study visitors) as well as other persons participating in Council of Europe activities (e.g. members of Council of Europe organs, bodies, committees and working groups as well as experts, consultants service providers and other contractors, etc.)
What about confidentiality?
The advisory function of the Ethics Officer is built on trust. Information disclosed to the Ethics Officer will always be handled confidentially.