01.05 Ethical standards

The UNAIDS Secretariat (HQ departments, liaison offices, regional support teams and country offices) and all individuals acting on behalf of UNAIDS must observe the highest standard of ethics throughout the procurement process, as outlined in UNAIDS Guide to ethics. The document is available on the UNAIDS intranet:

Staff and other personnel, especially those involved in procurement, shall never use their authority or office for personal gain, and they must seek to uphold and enhance the standing of UNAIDS. 

All individuals are responsible and accountable for the actions they take in the course of their official duties and for the consequences of such actions.

Conflicts of interest

A conflict of interest occurs when the private interests of a staff member—such as outside professional relationships or personal financial assets—interfere (or appear to interfere) with the proper performance of their professional functions or obligations as UNAIDS officials, as defined in the UNAIDS Secretariat Guide to Ethics.

Within the procurement environment, a conflict of interest may arise in connection with a number of factors, including (but not limited to) the following:
  • personal investments and assets
  • political or other outside activities and affiliations while in the service of UNAIDS
  • employment after retirement from the UN system 
  • the receipt of a gift that may place the member of staff in a position of obligation.
A conflict of interest also may arise in situations where a staff member is seen to benefit (directly or indirectly), or to allow a third party (including family, friends or someone they favour) to benefit from the decision of staff members. 

Staff members are prohibited from any involvement in a procurement action with a supplier of goods or services in which they have a financial interest. In cases where a conflict of interest could occur, such conflict should be reported to the Director of Planning, Finance and Accountability (See 2.2 Responsibilities of organizational units and procurement roles), who will review the facts and decide whether the staff member should carry out the procurement activity.

If necessary, the Ethics Officer shall be consulted:

UNAIDS has a zero-tolerance policy with regard to gifts and hospitality from suppliers or potential suppliers.

As a general outline:
  • gifts from suppliers must not be accepted, regardless of value;
  • gifts received must be returned, and the supplier must be informed that UN staff are not allowed to accept gifts;
  • offers of hospitality—such as drinks, lunches and dinners—must be declined; and
  • invitations of a social kind—such as sporting events, cultural events and holidays—must always be refused.