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Integrity in Humanitarian Work

Humanitarian work requires a wealth of skills. These will depend on the type of aid services that you deliver. But there are also some core skills that every humanitarian should have. These are soft skills, such as humanity and emotional intelligence. Among these, there is one that we would like to discuss today – integrity.

What is integrity at work?

Integrity is a fundamental value for employees and companies. Mostly it refers to a person’s moral and ethical compass. Is she or he able to do their work with integrity, honesty, and truth?

Examples of integrity at work can range from small things, such as essential office conduct, to more significant issues such as funding allocation. Of course, it is important to practice integrity in all aspects of life and all types of job. But for humanitarians, it is a particularly necessary value.

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What does it mean for aid workers?

Humanitarian aid workers often face complex situations. They find themselves working in extreme hardship stations and with people from all walks of life. They also manage a wealth of resources, such as food aid, medical supplies, and even money.

Sometimes, humanitarians may also develop an emotional connection with their beneficiaries and projects. So maintaining integrity in their work is essential. It goes hand-in-hand with other values, such as impartiality and neutrality.

Most organizations have a code of conduct for staff to follow. In fact, many also have an Integrity Officer. This person oversees that the code of conduct is implemented correctly. They also propose policy adjustments as needed and use protocols to address any possible code of conduct violations.

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What does it mean for humanitarian organizations?

From an organizational perspective, integrity is created through policies and company culture. It starts with the board of directors and should trickle down to the most junior employees. For this, organizations develop sets of guidelines for transparency and integrity. They also put checks and balances in place to ensure that these are correctly implemented.

One of principle guiding documents for humanitarian organizations is the Code of Conduct. The International Committee of Red Cross has released a Code of Conduct for humanitarian action. The report reiterates the importance of integrity in humanitarian aid. Also, it speaks to the main principles that humanitarian organizations must follow: humanity, impartiality, and independence.

Applying integrity in humanitarian work

There are many ways that integrity plays a vital role in humanitarian work. Not only is it a value, but it also has direct applicability in ensuring that aid is well delivered. Here are some examples of organizations and actions taken to promote integrity in humanitarian assistance.

Center for Social Integrity

Integrity is more than a value. It is also a state of being. When people have the opportunity to live with integrity, they can improve their quality of life. That’s why the Center for Social Integrity works to protect and promote pluralism and build peace among people. Through this, they hope to achieve a life of integrity for every person.

Integrity ad Ethics Training by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

Our values can be different across cultures, religions and personal experiences. That’s why it is important to promote a universal understanding of ethics and integrity in the humanitarian field.

To this end, UNODC has made several online courses available to students for free. These modules tackle a variety of topics that address integrity and ethics. The sessions are interactive, innovative and experiential.

Humanitarian Aid Integrity Programme

Corruption can be extremely damaging to the work of humanitarian assistance. Unfortunately, it is part of the reality that programs may sometimes face. This is unacceptable and deprives the most vulnerable of donated humanitarian resources.

In order to halt corruption in the aid sector, Transparency International launched the Humanitarian Aid Integrity Programme. It aims to improve transparency and accountability in humanitarian work. It address integrity at three different levels: institutional, policy, and operational.

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