UNHCR Complaints Mechanism

How to report misconduct by a UNHCR, UN or partner organization staff member.

UNHCR provides a trusting, respectful and inclusive environment in which the people we serve should feel safe, heard and empowered to speak up for themselves and others, and to take strong and visible action, as appropriate, to eradicate misconduct and/or sexual exploitation and abuse by UN workers.

Anyone who has concerns or suspicions about possible misconduct, exploitation and sexual abuse by a UNHCR staff member, UN staff member or any person who has a link to the UN (e.g., staff of a UNHCR NGO partner), regardless of their position, should report such concerns.

What is misconduct?

All UN staff members are required to comply with the UN Staff Rules and Regulations. Misconduct is defined as a staff member’s failure to comply with these rules.

Possible misconduct may include:

  • Sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of persons of interest;
  • Fraud (e.g., falsifying a document);
  • Corruption (e.g., accepting money from refugees or others);
  • Theft and embezzlement (e.g., stealing equipment or money);
  • Harassment;
  • Assault, threats or retaliation;
  • Acts or behavior that discredit UNHCR;
  • Failure to comply with local laws.

What is sexual exploitation and abuse?

Sexual exploitation and abuse are situations where humanitarian workers abuse their position of power or the trust of refugees, asylum seekers or migrants to obtain sexual relations or favors.

Offering money, shelter, food or other goods or services to any person in a vulnerable position in exchange for sexual relations or sexual favors is sexual exploitation.

The threat, use of force or intimidation to engage in sexual relations or to obtain sexual favors from any person in a position of unequal power is sexual abuse.

UNHCR staff and partner organizations are strictly prohibited:

  • Engaging in any sexual conduct with another person in exchange for money, employment, preferential treatment, goods or services.
  • Engaging in any sexual conduct with a person under 18 years of age.
  • Engage in any sexual conduct with those persons to whom services are provided and for whom a protection mandate is in place.
  • Engage in any humiliating, degrading or exploitative sexual practices.

At UNHCR, we take allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse very seriously. We will investigate them independently and confidentially and action will be taken to prevent their recurrence.

You can report it to a UNHCR office or partner organization anywhere and they will listen to you and follow up on your report.

Your safety will always be considered when following up on a complaint or allegation.

The person you report it to will be able to advise you and help you with the support you need for assistance.

Investigations will be carried out by an independent person and action will be taken against service providers if they are found guilty of inappropriate behavior.


  • Were you forced or asked to exchange sex or perform any action of a sexual nature in exchange for assistance, food, shelter, shelter, money or any other type of aid?
  • Were you forced by someone from UNHCR or a partner organization to have sex or perform any other act of a sexual nature?
  • Were you threatened by someone from UNHCR or a partner organization to engage in sexual relations or any other act of a sexual nature?
  • Do you know or are you a person under the age of 18 who has had or been asked to have sexual relations, of any kind, with someone from UNHCR or a partner organization?

If you answered yes to any of the above options, you or the person you know could be a victim of sexual exploitation and abuse, please report it!

When reporting, please describe in detail the information you have about the incident, including: What happened, who committed the possible act, where and when did it happen? Be as detailed as possible.


  • You have the right to file a report or complaint in person, anonymously or on behalf of someone else.
  • You can tell a trusted person at UNHCR or a partner organization that you want to file a report of sexual exploitation and abuse and a staff member will contact you to follow up.
  • You can drop your complaint in one of the complaint/suggestion boxes in UNHCR offices, partners or shelters.


  • Your report will be CONFIDENTIAL.
  • When reporting, they will always consider your safety.
  • Reporting an incident or raising concerns will NOT prevent you from receiving assistance and support and will not stop the provision of services.
  • The person to whom you have reported or whoever receives the report will be able to advise and assist you with any immediate safety, security, health and legal needs. Be sure to leave your contact information.
  • If the investigation establishes the facts, serious disciplinary action will be taken against the offending person