As our employee we expect you to respect our basic principles and code of conduct. The basic principles are set down in our charter. You signed the Code of Conduct, at the start of your employment.

Behave responsibly in every situation

It is important that you are aware that you are in a certain position of power when you work for us in the field, and that you use this power responsibly. Responsible behaviour means that you pay attention to the way you treat people. It means that you may not exploit the vulnerability of others nor take advantage of your position for personal gain. There are training sessions and courses during which you are trained in how to respond sensibly in certain situations and how to avoid bad situations.

What is unacceptable behaviour?

Any behaviour that has a direct or potentially negative impact on the health or wellbeing of the other party, on the safety of our patients and their family or friends who are caring for them in a hospital or clinic, or the safety of our staff. Unacceptable behaviour may range from verbal to physical abuse.

We do not tolerate any physical or psychological abuse of individuals, nor any sexual intimidation or a lack of respect for human dignity. And under no circumstances whatsoever do we tolerate sexual relationships with minors.

Safe environment

Even though we do all that we can to prevent unacceptable behaviour, it can still occur. We are working to create an environment in which people feel safe to bring up any suspicion or experience of unacceptable behaviour, and to keep each other alert to this. This also means that you can submit a complaint confidentially without fearing for your personal safety or your job, before or during your mission. Our procedure for this is conveyed during briefings, training courses and in the staff manuals, so that you always know where and to whom you can go if you have experienced or seen anything untoward. We take every report seriously and investigate it further.

Reporting: to whom and how?

You can report to your manager, or outside the hierarchical structure via dedicated email addresses which we will inform you about. We also encourage victims or witnesses in the communities where we work to report unacceptable behaviour, so that allegations can be investigated and dealt with.

Protection

Our first priority is the protection of the victim and the person who has filed the report of unacceptable behaviour. We offer all support that may be needed, including psychological and medical care and securing legal assistance. Protection also means that all names and information are treated with utmost confidentiality, and that we conduct any investigations with necessary care to ascertain whether the report is justified.

Consequences

If a report is found to be justified, the consequences for the employee in question may vary from an official warning and mandatory supervision/training, to suspension or dismissal. If a victim does not wish to bring a matter to justice, we will respect their decision. In the event of sexual abuse against minors, our policy is to report the case to the judiciary authorities, depending on the child's best interests and the availability of such procedures.

Complicating factors

We realise that, as in society at large, there are many factors that may prevent people from reporting unacceptable behaviour: fear of not being believed, prevailing stigma, or fear of possible reprisals. These fears may be amplified in the particular contexts in which we work, such as conflict areas where there is a general lack of protection mechanisms for victims, a high level of violence and impunity reign and where the population is highly dependent on external assistance. Achieving and maintaining a safe working environment is an ongoing endeavour, for which we are all responsible.

Transparency

Transparency and speaking out about unacceptable behaviour are vital. We have a responsibility towards our staff and patients to create a safe working environment and to address unacceptable behaviour. For MSF and the people who travel to crisis areas for us, our highest priority continues to be making a difference for populations in distress, and providing aid to people who really need it.

To find out more about how we are working to promote a safe working environment, and for statistics, click here.