Policy on gifts to UN Staff members

09 Dec 2015

The holiday season has come again. For many of us, it is a time for giving and receiving gifts. 

The holiday season has come again. For many of us, it is a time for giving and receiving gifts. 

However, as international civil servants, we should be aware that receiving gifts (For example : goods, hospitality and invitations other than official functions such as meals or diplomatic receptions, entertainment, cash or cash equivalents such as gift cards and tickets, etc.) in connection with our work can appear to create an obligation to the giver.  To avoid any appearance of impropriety, staff regulations 1.2 (j), (k) & (l) as well as staff rules 1.2 (k), (l), (m), (n), (o) & (p) generally do not allow us to receive gifts or benefits in our official capacity.  Gifts from family and friends who have no ties to our professional duties are of course permitted. Also acceptable is the social exchange of nominal gifts among colleagues, provided there is no expectation of any official action in return. [See staff rule 1.2 (k)].

When offered a gift, you should politely decline, regardless of source: governmental or non-governmental.  Do explain that our standards of conduct do not allow for the acceptance of gifts in order to safeguard UN staff impartiality.  The receipt of gifts from governments is not permitted.  Gifts or benefits from any individual or entity doing or seeking to do business with the United Nations should be promptly declined and/or returned.

In exceptional cases, you can request prior approval for accepting a gift.  When refusing a gift can cause embarrassment to the Organization, you may receive it on behalf of the United Nations.  Then promptly (as soon as possible) report the item to your Executive Office and await instructions.

(An online Gift Registry application has been developed which will be launched soon.)

Please familiarize yourself with the following resources:

·        ST/SGB/2014/1  Staff Rules and Regulations of the United Nations,

·        ST/AI/2010/1 “Reporting, retaining and disposing of honours, decorations, favours, gifts or remuneration from governmental and non-governmental sources,” and

·        the mandatory online ethics training course is available on Inspira.

For more information or advice, please contact the Ethics Helpline:  +1-917-367-9858 or Email: ethicsoffice@un.org.

Wishing you and your family a happy holiday season.

Posted on: 09 Dec 2015