Ethical principles, sexual misconduct and fraud

As a specialized agency of the UN system, WHO is firmly committed to the following ethical principles:

  • Integrity: To behave in accordance with ethical principles, and act in good faith, intellectual honesty and fairness.
  • Accountability: To take responsibility for one’s actions, decisions and their consequences.
  • Independence and impartiality: To conduct oneself with the interests of WHO only in view and under the sole authority of the Director-General, and to ensure that personal views and convictions do not compromise ethical principles, official duties or the interests of WHO.
  • Respect: To respect the dignity, worth, equality, diversity and privacy of all persons.
  • Professional Commitment: To demonstrate a high level of professionalism and loyalty to the Organization, its mandate and objectives.

To address breaches of ethical principles, WHO has developed specific policies, including a robust policy on whistleblowing and protection against retaliation. Particular focus is given to:

  • Sexual misconduct: WHO has zero tolerance for such acts, including sexual harassment and sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) of local populations. Individuals who have reason to believe a SEA situation may have occurred, by a WHO staff or collaborator, or another UN international civil servant, must inform CRE either by contacting ethicsoffice [at] or through the Integrity Hotline, where they will receive confidential advice. Human Resources is also available for additional advice and assistance with reporting concerns or suspicions.
  • Fraud, corruption: all complaints of fraud and corruption will be thoroughly reviewed and investigated, and those found to have committed fraud or corruption will be punished accordingly. Complaints can be made to the Ethics Office, via email or confidentially through the WHO’s integrity hotline, or directly to the Director of IOS.


Ethics Office: ethicsoffice [at]
Integrity Hotline:
Head of IOS: David Webb, webbd [at]