The Ethics Office

©FAO/Carl de Souza

The FAO Ethics Office was established in December 2009 to assist the Director-General in promoting a culture of ethics, transparency and accountability that enables FAO staff members and associated personnel to perform their functions in accordance with the highest standards of conduct.   

The Ethics Office also has the objective of helping to ensure that individuals feel able to speak up without fear of retaliation.

Responsibility for ethical and professional conduct lies with all members of FAO personnel. The Ethics Office provides advice and guidance.


To promote ethical conduct, integrity, transparency and accountability at FAO.

The FAO Oversight Advisory Committee operates in an advisory capacity to the Ethics Office and assists with ensuring the ongoing quality of the performance of its functions.

Areas of Work

©FAO/Giulio Napolitano

Ethical Conduct

The Ethics Office raises awareness about and provides confidential advice and guidance on ethical issues, including conflicts of interest and a respectful working environment. The Ethics Officer also contributes to the development of policy standards and training materials related to ethical conduct.

FAO staff have duties and obligations under Article VIII of the FAO Constitution, Article I of the Staff Regulations, and Chapter 1 of the Staff Rules. They must act  in accordance with these duties and obligations at all times, in particular with the principles of integrity, impartiality and independence.

The oath of office or declaration taken by FAO staff members is:

"I solemnly swear (undertake, promise) to exercise in all loyalty, discretion and conscience the functions entrusted to me as an international civil servant of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; to discharge these functions and regulate my conduct with the interests of the Organization only in view, and not to seek or accept instructions in regard to the performance of my duties from any government or other authority external to the Organization.“

All FAO personnel are expected to act in accordance with the Standards of Conduct for the International Civil Service issued by the International Civil Service Commission. These Standards have been incorporated into the FAO Administrative Manual.

©FAO/Riccardo Gangale / FAO

Annual Disclosure Programme

The Ethics Officer is responsible for administering the FAO Annual Disclosure Programme, pursuant to Article I of the Staff Regulations.

Given FAO's overriding mandate of ensuring humanity's freedom from hunger, it must ensure transparency and hold itself and its staff accountable for the funds it receives. For this reason, FAO upholds the highest standards of integrity and seeks to avoid or prevent situations of conflict of interest.

The primary purpose of the Annual Disclosure Programme is to manage, reduce or eliminate the risk of conflicts of interest arising from staff members’ outside activities, personal relations or financial holdings. This may include advising staff members to divest themselves of holdings, or to recuse themselves from a particular activity or an aspect of their official functions.

Every year selected staff members who are required to file a Annual Disclosure Statement are notified by the Ethics Officer.

©FAO/Florita Botts

Whistleblower Protection Policy

All FAO personnel are required to report any breach of the Organization’s rules and to cooperate with the Organization’s oversight functions. An individual who makes a report in good faith has the right to be protected against retaliation.

Under the Organization’s Whistleblower Protection Policy, the Ethics Officer is responsible for the receipt of complaints of retaliation and for conducting the prima facie review of such complaints, prior to an investigation by the Office of the Inspector-General.

Retaliation against individuals who have reported concerns or who have cooperated with oversight activities violates the fundamental obligation of all FAO personnel to uphold the highest standards of efficiency, competence and integrity, and to discharge their functions and regulate their conduct in a manner that is in the interests of the Organization. Acts of retaliation will result in disciplinary or administrative action.

The Whistleblower Protection Policy was revised in 2021 (approved by the FAO Director-General on 28 June) and is available in all FAO languages: EnglishFrench, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese and Russian.

Report retaliation here: Hotline or write to [email protected] 

Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA)

The Ethics Office supports FAO’s activities to implement measures for Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by raising awareness about FAO personnel's obligations. All personnel must know the Six Core Principles.

As defined in the 2003 UN Secretary-General’s Bulletin on Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, sexual exploitation means any actual or attempted abuse of a position of vulnerability, differential power, or trust, for sexual purposes, including, but not limited to, profiting monetarily, socially or politically from the sexual exploitation of another, while sexual abuse means the actual or threatened physical intrusion of a sexual nature, whether by force or under unequal or coercive conditions.

FAO considers sexual exploitation and abuse to be serious misconduct, for which the disciplinary measure is summary dismissal.

To report any concerns regarding possible sexual exploitation or abuse, contact the Office of the Inspector General (OIG): CONFIDENTIAL HOTLINE

You may also email OIG at: [email protected] or call them at:  (+ 39) 06 570 52333


FAO's poster on Prevention from Sexual exploitation and abuse: EN, FR, ES

Annual Reports of the Ethics Office