The Secretary General created a new position of Ethics officer effective as from 1 April 2019.

The Ethics Officer provides guidance and advice on ethical issues to staff as well as any other person taking part in the Council of Europe activities.

 It is better to be safe than sorry  Gianluca Esposito (First Ethics Officer)

 Terms of Reference of the Ethics Officer

The role of an Ethics Officer is established by the Secretary General to provide an independent advisory function to him/her with respect to ethics related matters.

The Ethics Officer will also act as a focal point for ethics related questions by staff members and persons participating in the Council’s activities. In performing his/her functions, the Ethics Officer shall neither seek nor receive instructions from any government authorities. He/she shall act independently and only be accountable to and receive instructions from the Secretary General. He/she shall be guided solely by his/her expertise and professional judgement.

The Ethics Officer shall in particular:

  • provide guidance and advice on ethics related questions to staff and persons participating in the Council’s activities;
  • promote the ethical standards of the Organisation among staff and persons participating in the Organisation’s activities and assist in designing and promoting information and awareness-raising campaigns on these standards;
  • monitor the effectiveness of the Organisation’s ethical framework including whistleblower and witness protection; advise on potential adoption of or modifications to the ethics-related internal rules, policies and procedures;
  • advise on conflict of interest issues relating to staff members involved in procurement and grant management;
  • provide advice to the Secretary General and managers on how to respond adequately to emerging ethics issues which may have an adverse impact on the Organisation’s proper functioning or reputation as well as, if appropriate, on mitigating measures to be implemented in this respect;
  • develop and maintain mechanisms for swiftly addressing ethics issues (e.g. helpline, network of ethics correspondents, guidance, etc.).


 Terms of appointment

The Ethics Officer shall be appointed by the Secretary General.

The first Ethics Officer shall be appointed for a trial period of one year with possibility of renewal. The
establishment of the ethics advisory function and the Terms of Reference shall be subject to review after
this trial period.

The mandate maybe renewed one or several times for periods of at least one year, up to a total maximum duration of eight years.

The Ethics Officer shall perform his/her functions in accordance with internationally accepted best practices and in compliance with Council of Europe policies, rules and regulations.

When examining any 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.


The Ethics Officer shall report directly to the Secretary General. He/she shall submit an annual report to
the Secretary General outlining all ethics related activity in the Organisation for the year in review.

The first annual report following the creation of the role of Ethics Officer shall in particular include recommendations on how to further develop and enhance the function.

 Investigation and inquiries

The Ethics Officer shall not engage in investigations/inquiries into fraud, corruption or non-respect of
the Council of Europe rules and regulations. He/she shall, however, refer information to the competent
bodies in this respect.