Inappropriate behaviour – what should you do?
Have you had to deal with inappropriate behaviour by an employee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (BZ)? If so, you can report this to the ministry’s integrity coordinator. If you would like to receive confidential advice and assistance first, you can contact the external support officer before filing your report.
Below are examples of inappropriate behaviour:
- conflicts of interest;
- manipulation or misuse of information;
- criminal offences, such as theft, embezzlement, fraud or corruption;
- sexual harassment or other forms of harassment;
- discrimination based on skin colour, socio-cultural background, sexual orientation, gender or age;
- abuse of authority, such as threatening to withdraw a grant.
External support officer – advice and assistance
If you would like to talk to someone and/or receive advice in confidence about how to report potentially inappropriate behaviour, you can contact the external support officer directly. The external support officer is there specially to provide support to anyone who has worked with or had contact with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The external support officer is familiar with BZ but works for a different ministry. This is to ensure that they remain independent. The officer will listen to what you have to say, answer your questions, help you think through the situation and inform you how to file an official report. Everything you discuss will remain confidential. The officer is not a mediator, however. How you proceed remains up to you. Nonetheless, you can request that the officer bring the report you file to the direct attention of BZ’s Secretary-General.
The officer themselves does not investigate potential breaches of integrity. Each year, they inform the Secretary-General of the incidents that people have contacted them about. The information provided remains anonymous.
Filing a report
Official reports of inappropriate behaviour can be filed with the integrity coordinator by emailing email@example.com.
The integrity coordinator has an independent role within the ministry and discusses reports of inappropriate behaviour with the Secretary-General or Deputy Secretary-General directly. Reporting inappropriate behaviour will not affect the grants that you or your organisation receive from the ministry or your relationship with the ministry.
When filing a report, please include the following information:
- name and job title of the BZ staff member/members concerned;
- as specific a description as possible of the inappropriate behaviour;
- your contact details: mailing address, email address and phone number.
Reports can also be filed by post. Send letters to:
Integriteitscoördinator BZ (VCI)
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
2500 EB The Hague
Once your report has been received, the integrity coordinator will send you an acknowledgement of receipt.
Your report has been received – what next?
BZ’s integrity coordinator will process your report. In doing so, they will consider the following:
- Is it clear what is being reported?
- Is the behaviour reported a potential breach of integrity?
- What is the severity of the behaviour reported?
The integrity coordinator will keep you updated on the status of your report and the steps being taken.
If any further investigation is required, the integrity coordinator – in consultation with the Secretary-General – will draw up a plan for this. Independent investigators will speak with you, witnesses, experts and the person reported. At all times, you may have someone accompany you during these meetings. Investigations are also often carried out into documents such as emails and other forms of communication. It goes without saying that investigators will keep all information confidential.
Confidential, however, does not mean anonymous. The results of the investigation will appear in the investigation document. If any measures are to be taken against the person investigated, the investigation document will be disclosed to that person so that they may have the opportunity to defend themselves. It is often possible to deduce from the investigation document who reported the inappropriate behaviour. However, no one is ever permitted to penalise you for filing a report.