Press Release WHO/55
21 July 1998
DIRECTOR-GENERAL IMPLEMENTS NEW CODE OF CONDUCT FOR FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE
In her first official action as Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland has implemented a new code of conduct for financial disclosure.
Coinciding with the changeover in senior management which Dr Brundtland enacted upon taking over as Director-General of WHO on 21 July (see Press Release WHO/54 for more details), the "Standards of Conduct and Financial Disclosure" are designed to "send a clear message of high standards from the outset" of her administration.
Starting now, high-level WHO officials will have to disclose and, if judged necessary by the Director-General on the advice of the Legal Counsel, divest themselves of financial and other interests if these interests affect their independence from external authorities. The decision was agreed in the first meeting of Dr Brundtland's Cabinet.
High-level WHO officials will henceforth have to disclose interests (financial or otherwise) in the private sector. These interests include shareholdings, bondholdings, patent interests and directorships and the new code of conduct will apply to the Director-General, Cabinet Members, other senior officials as determined by the Director-General, and to their spouses and dependent children. (For details, see Annex 1.)
From 21 July the following principles will apply:
All financial interests in the private sector, such as shareholdings or bond holdings, are to be declared in confidence to the Legal Counsel.
Any patent interests are likewise to be declared.
Also any other private sector interest, e.g., paid or unpaid directorships (paid remuneration being clearly ruled out under existing rules) are likewise to be declared.
Legal Counsel is to advise the Director General on whether any holding or interest could give rise to a real or perceived conflict of interest and whether there should be a divestment, placement in trust or other administrative arrangement made with respect such holdings and interests.
The proposal will apply to the Director-General, Cabinet Members and other senior officials as determined by the Director-General, together with their spouses and dependent children.
There will be Annual declaration, with updating whenever there is a material change.
These new rules will be formally incorporated into WHO staff rules after approval by the Executive Board at its next meeting, but their application will be immediate, by Cabinet decision.
The issue of full financial disclosure will be reviewed in the context of UN developments and a more general ethics initiative.
For further information, journalists can contact Gregory Hartl, WHO, Geneva. Telephone (41 22) 791 44 58. Fax (41 22) 791 48 58. E-Mail: email@example.com
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