Canadian Legal Expert Takes Top Ethics Post at the UN
by UN News Center, 3 May 2007
A Canadian lawyer, Robert F. Benson, has been appointed Director of the UN Ethics Office as of 1 May 2007. Mr. Benson has extensive experience in governmental ethics. He served as the Interim Ethics Commissioner in the Canadian Parliament and as Deputy Ethics Counsellor within the Canadian Government.
Following the recommendations enshrined in the World Summit Outcome Document of September 2005 requesting the Secretary General to submit the details for the creation of an Ethics Office, an Ethics Office with independent status was formally established and became operational in January 2006 (Terms of Reference for the Ethics Office). The Ethics Office is charged with the task of ensuring ethical conduct, more extensive financial disclosure for U.N. officials, and better protection for those who reveal wrongdoing within the organization. Further details on its main responsibilities are provided in resolution A/60/568 Annex I.
The Office has already introduced a new, official "whistleblower protection policy," entitled "Protection against retaliation for reporting misconduct and for cooperating with duly authorized audits or investigations," which has been in effect since January 2006. A comprehensive policy has been formulated with the purpose of expanding the range of financial disclosure that is currently required by senior officials. The policy is entitled "Financial Disclosure and Declaration of Interest Statements." Furthermore, the Office will collaborate with the OIOS (Office of Internal Oversight) and the Fraud Prevention Officer in implementing a policy on the prevention of fraud and corruption. The Office will also ensure that the existing standards of conduct are applied and will ultimately develop a system-wide code of ethics for all personnel of the United Nations by incorporating ethics into staff training programs.