Mandate of the Council of Europe Ethics Officer

Article 1 – General mandate

  1. The Ethics Officer acts as a focal point for ethics-related questions and standards in the Council of Europe by providing independent advice to the Secretary General and advice on a confidential basis to Secretariat members and other persons participating in the activities of the Council of Europe, and by promoting and monitoring the effectiveness of the ethics framework of the Organisation;

  2. In performing these functions, the Ethics Officer enjoys functional independence and is guided by the Staff Regulations and Rules, the ethics framework of the Council of Europe, established practice, accepted international standards, impartiality and professional judgment;

  3. The Ethics Officer co-ordinates the ethics-related activities in the Council of Europe; to this end he/she establishes an ethics strategy and programme to be updated at regular interval with the aim of ensuring the highest standards of integrity and ethical conduct in the Organisation;

  4. The Ethics Officer exchanges views with the Oversight Advisory Committee and co-operates and liaises with other relevant bodies and mechanisms of the Council of Europe as appropriate.

Article 2 – Areas of responsibility

1. Advisory function
The Ethics Officer

i) provides confidential advice and guidance on ethical conduct and related questions to Secretariat members and other persons participating in Council of Europe activities, including on conflicts of interest in areas such as outside activities, gifts, favours and advantages, hospitality, honours, decorations, post-employment situations, procurement and grant-award procedures as well as in situations resulting in reputational risks for the Organisation;

ii) provides advice on the interpretation of and compliance with, the Organisation’s ethics rules, strategies, programmes and policies, including Secretariat members’ obligation to report wrongdoing affecting the public interest;

iii) provides advice on protective measures to be taken in the context of prevention of risks of retaliation for the protection of reporting persons (whistle-blowers) and other categories of persons who shall be protected from retaliation pursuant to the Speak Up Policy;

iv) provides ad hoc advice to the Secretary General and the Administration on the application of the ethics framework;

2. Monitoring and standard-setting

The Ethics Officer

v) monitors the effectiveness of the Organisation’s ethics framework and advises on potential modifications to the ethics-related rules, policies and procedures;

vi) reviews the annual and ad hoc declarations of interest submitted by Secretariat members; monitors risks of conflicts of interest in this respect and advises on mitigating measures, as appropriate;

vii) provides strategic advice and recommendations to the Secretary General, the Administration and other entities on emerging ethics issues which may have an adverse impact on the Organisation’s proper functioning or reputation, as well as on mitigating measures in this respect.

3. Awareness-raising, training and outreach

The Ethics Officer

viii) is instrumental in promoting the ethics standards of the Organisation through the design of awareness-raising campaigns and training (both in-person and online) for Secretariat members, including at managerial levels, in close cooperation with the pertinent services of the Council of Europe, in particular the Directorate of Human Resources and Directorate of Internal Oversight;
ix) ensures awareness-raising activities on the ethics standards of the Council of Europe for persons, other than Secretariat members, who participate in the activities of the Organisation;
x) maintains and develops mechanisms for swiftly addressing ethics issues;
xi) participates in exchanges of views in international fora and external partnerships, such as the Ethics Network of Multilateral Organisations (ENMO), in order to maintain and develop best practices in accordance with international standards in this area.

Article 3 – Reporting

  1. The Ethics Officer reports and is accountable to the Secretary General without prejudice to the functional independence in the performance of his/her duties.

  2. The Ethics Officer provides annual reports on pertinent ethics-related activities and issues in the Organisation for the year in review as well as prospects for the future and recommendations, as appropriate. These reports are transmitted to the Secretary General and the Committee of Ministers. The annual reports are public.

  3. The Ethics Officer shall not disclose information received in confidence unless i) the person providing the information has given his/her consent to the disclosure; ii) there is a risk of imminent danger or harm towards individuals or the Organisation’s interest, image or reputation; or iii) such information is requested in the context of an investigative process or audit. In these situations, the Ethics Officer shall provide the information to the pertinent bodies, while protecting - to the extent feasible - the identity of the person having provided the information.

  4. Before examining a particular situation, the Ethics Officer must declare to the Secretary General any conflict of interest which he/she may have in relation to the matter.

Article 4 – Appointment and terms of office

The Secretary General appoints the Ethics Officer for an initial period of at least three years, with the possibility of renewal once up to six years as the maximum term of service. The Ethics Officer shall not be eligible for appointment to any other position within the Council of Europe.