UNHCR Complaints Procedure

Zero Tolerance

IGO – Inspector General’s Office

How to report misconduct by a UNHCR, United Nations or associated worker

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

Anyone having concerns or suspicions about possible misconduct, sexual exploitation and abuse by a UNHCR staff member, United Nations staff member, or anyone with a contractual link to the United Nations (for example, NGO staff), regardless of that person’s position, should report such concerns.

What is misconduct?

All UN staff members are bound by the United Nations Staff Rules and Regulations. Misconduct is defined as the failure by a staff member to abide by these rules and regulations.

Possible misconduct can include:

  • Sexual exploitation and abuse of people of concern;
  • Fraud (e.g. falsifying a document);
  • Corruption (e.g. taking money from refugees or others);
  • Theft and embezzlement (e.g. stealing equipment or money);
  • Harassment;
  • Assault, threats or retaliation;
  • Acts or behaviour that would discredit UNHCR;
  • Non-compliance with local laws.

What is sexual exploitation and abuse?

Our position is clear, and has been reiterated on a number of occasions by our High Commissioner: sexual misconduct is unjustifiable and must be eradicated from UNHCR operations.

  • Sexual exploitation and abuse affect persons of concern.
  • Sexual exploitation is defined as an actual or attempted abuse of someone’s position of vulnerability (such as a person depending on you for survival, food rations, school books, transport or other services), differential power or trust, to obtain sexual favours, including but not only, by offering money or other social, economic or political advantages. It includes trafficking and prostitution.
  • Sexual abuse means the actual or threatened physical intrusion of a sexual nature, whether by force, or under unequal or coercive conditions. It includes sexual slavery, pornography, child abuse and sexual assault.

UNHCR is aware of the enormous difficulties that survivors of sexual exploitation or abuse face in coming forward, and of the deep professional and personal considerations, and even fears, that may prevent them from doing so.

UNHCR is striving to address concerns by ensuring that reporting mechanisms are known, accessible and trusted, and that victims who report sexual misconduct feel safe and protected. UNHCR has a survivor-centred approach that places the rights and protection of victims, survivors and persons directly affected at the centre of our actions. Actions include improving the experience of recourse, providing better medical and psycho-social support, strengthening our policies, and developing additional protective measures for those who have experienced or witnessed such abuses.

How to report misconduct or sexual exploitation and abuse?

Reports of misconduct by a UNHCR staff member, United Nations staff member, or anyone with a contractual link to the United Nations (for example, NGO staff), can be made directly to the UNHCR’s Inspector General’s Office (IGO).

  • Strict confidentiality standards as well as other standards and procedural safeguards apply to investigations conducted by the Inspector General’s Office. The IGO safeguards the confidentiality of the identity of the person from whom or the entity from which it receives a report of possible misconduct.

How to contact the IGO:

Confidential fax: +41 22 739 73 80

Confidential email: Email IGO

In person or by post: 94 rue de Montbrillant, CP 2500, 1211 Geneva

By using the Online Complaint Form

Mark all mail CONFIDENTIAL

Note: Telephone and fax numbers are not toll-free; local or long distance telephone charges apply.

Additional Information

Further information on how to report misconduct and the role of the Inspector General’s Office may be found here.

Further information on reporting sexual exploitation and abuse and the role of the Inspector General’s Office may be found here.

Alternatively, should you wish to arrange a confidential meeting to discuss misconduct directly with the UNHCR Office in Cyprus, please contact us by email [email protected] or telephone: +357 22 359 057.