The Secretary-General, for the purpose of ensuring that all staff members and non-staff personnel of the Secretariat are treated with dignity and respect and are aware of their role and responsibilities in maintaining a workplace free of any form of discrimination, harassment, including sexual harassment, and abuse of authority, and being mindful of the need to prevent such conduct and, if it occurs, to take timely appropriate corrective action, while offering support to those targeted by such conduct, promulgates the following:

Section 1


Prohibited conduct

1.1 For the purposes of the present bulletin, discrimination, harassment, including sexual harassment, and abuse of authority shall collectively be referred to as “prohibited conduct”. Disagreement on work performance or on other work-related issues is normally not considered prohibited conduct and is not dealt with under the provisions of the present bulletin but in the context of performance management.


1.2 Discrimination is any unfair treatment or arbitrary distinction based on a person’s race, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, religion, nationality, ethnic origin, disability, age, language, social origin or other similar shared characteristic or trait. Discrimination may be an isolated event affecting one person or a group of persons similarly situated, or may manifest itself through harassment or abuse of authority.


1.3 Harassment is any unwelcome conduct that might reasonably be expected or be perceived to cause offence or humiliation to another person, when such conduct interferes with work or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.
1.4 Harassment may take the form of words, gestures or actions which tend to annoy, alarm, abuse, demean, intimidate, belittle, humiliate or embarrass another. Harassment may be directed at one or more persons based on a shared characteristic or trait as set out in section 1.2 above. Harassment normally implies a series of incidents.

Sexual harassment

1.5 Sexual harassment is any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that might reasonably be expected or be perceived to cause offence or humiliation, when such conduct interferes with work, is made a condition of employment or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment. Sexual harassment may occur in the workplace or in connection with work.
1.6 While typically involving a pattern of conduct, sexual harassment may take the form of a single incident. In assessing the reasonableness of expectations or perceptions, the perspective of the person who is the target of the conduct shall be considered.
1.7 Sexual harassment is the manifestation of a culture of discrimination and privilege based on unequal gender relations and other power dynamics. Sexual harassment may involve any conduct of a verbal, non-verbal or physical nature, including written and electronic communications. Sexual harassment may occur between persons of the same or different genders, and individuals of any gender can be either the affected individuals or the alleged offenders. Sexual harassment may occur outside the workplace and outside working hours, including during official travel or social functions related to work. Sexual harassment may be perpetrated by any colleague, including a supervisor, a peer or a subordinate. An offender’s status as a supervisor or a senior official may be treated as an aggravating circumstance. Sexual harassment is prohibited under staff rule 1.2 (f) and may also constitute sexual exploitation or abuse under staff rule 1.2 (e).

Abuse of authority

1.8 Abuse of authority is the improper use of a position of influence, power or authority against another person. This is particularly serious when a person uses their influence, power or authority to improperly influence the career or employment conditions of another, including, but not limited to, appointment, assignment, contract renewal, performance evaluation, working conditions or promotion. Abuse of authority may also include conduct that creates a hostile or offensive work environment which includes, but is not limited to, the use of intimidation, threats, blackmail or coercion. Discrimination and harassment, including sexual harassment, are particularly serious when accompanied by abuse of authority.


To download ST/SGB/2019/8, Addressing discrimination, harassment, including sexual harassment, and abuse of authority, please click below.

ST SGB 2019 8 – disc harass abuse authority