“We cannot urge countries to implement strategies promoting accountability and transparency if we do not hold ourselves to the same high ethical standards,” stressed IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno in a special adress to Bank staff while introducing the institution’s new Code of Ethics "The IDB Group must be a beacon of integrity,” he added.
The revised code, effective March 1st 2006, applies to staff of the IDB and the Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC), a related multilateral institution focusing on private sector development. It is the product of an extensive consultation process, involving a well-respected non-governmental organization specializing in ethics and transparency, the Ethics Resource Center, as well as a wide array of Bank committees and employees. Rather than being a top-down initiative, the document reflects a comprehensive framework for integrity, which was developed in consultation with Bank employees to provide a clear, consensual, ethical compass for all staff.
Furthering this notion of a comprehensive framework, the implementation of the code will be an ongoing and collaborative process, with responsibilities falling on the shoulders of all Bank employees, said Moreno, adding that the new document only marks the beginning of a shared journey, which will include a review of all the Bank's integrity procedures and processes.
Integral to the implementation of the Code is clarifying for Bank employees where to go and who to consult when they have integrity concerns. They are urged to approach the Secretariat of the Ethics Committee, the only source of formal advice on the Bank’s Code in questions and doubts regarding ethics and integrity. Recruitment of a professionally trained Secretary for the Ethics Committee to serve as the IDB’s Chief Ethics Officer for the IDB is currently underway.
A key component of this process is addressing the fear that bringing up ethical issues can generate suspicion and distrust among colleagues, noted Moreno. Employees should see it as their shared responsibility to report actions that could undermine the Bank’s integrity, with absolute certainty that those reporting misconduct will be protected from reprisal.
President Moreno also expressed his commitment in establishing an effective disclosure mechanism for management and other critical staff members, as a way to prevent conflicts of interest. He will file a declaration of his own financial interests this year, he added.
Starting in June, ethics training for managers will begin at IDB headquarters and in the country offices, setting in motion an ethics training plan to be provided regularly to all Bank Group employees.
Overall, Moreno noted that the purpose of the Code is to establish a foundation of trust, honor, accountability and integrity for both current and future Bank employees, serving as a “reaffirmation of the moral contract we have with the peoples of the Americas and the member countries of our institutions."
The Boards of Executive Directors of the IDB and the IIC have previously approved Codes of Ethics applicable to their own members.