Recommendation No. R (2000) 10
of the Committee of Ministers to Member states
on codes of conduct for public officials
(Adopted by the Committee of Ministers
at its 106th Session on 11 May 2000)
The Committee of Ministers, under the terms of Article 15.b of the Statute of the Council of Europe,
Considering that the aim of the Council of Europe is to achieve a greater unity between its members;
Considering that public administrations play an essential role in democratic societies and that they must have at their disposal suitable personnel to carry out properly the tasks which are assigned to them;
Considering that public officials are the key element of a public administration, that they have specific duties and obligations, and that they should have the necessary qualifications and an appropriate legal and material environment in order to carry out their tasks effectively;
Convinced that corruption represents a serious threat to the rule of law, democracy, human rights, equity and social justice, that it hinders economic development and endangers the stability of democratic institutions and the moral foundations of society;
Having regard to the recommendations adopted at the 19th and 21st Conferences of European Ministers of Justice (Valletta, 1994 and Prague, 1997 respectively);
Having regard to the Programme of Action against Corruption adopted by the Committee of Ministers in 1996;
Having regard to Recommendation No. R (81) 19 of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on the access to information held by public authorities;
Having regard to Recommendation No. R (2000) 6 of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on the status of public officials in Europe;
In accordance with the Final Declaration and the Plan of Action adopted by the heads of state and government of the Council of Europe at their Second Summit, held in Strasbourg, on 10 and 11 October 1997;
Recalling in this respect the importance of the participation of non-member states in the Council of Europe’s activities against corruption and welcoming their valuable contribution to the implementation of the Programme of Action against Corruption;
Having regard to Resolution (97) 24 on the twenty guiding principles for the fight against corruption;
Having regard to Resolutions (98) 7 and (99) 5 authorising and respectively adopting the Enlarged Partial Agreement establishing the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), which aims at improving the capacity of its members to fight corruption by following up compliance with their undertakings in this field;
Convinced that raising public awareness and promoting ethical values are valuable as means to prevent corruption,
Recommends that the governments of member states promote, subject to national law and the principles of public administration, the adoption of national codes of conduct for public officials based on the model code of conduct for public officials annexed to this Recommendation; and
Instructs the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) to monitor the implementation of this Recommendation.
Appendix to Recommendation No. R (2000) 10
Model code of conduct for public officials
Interpretation and application
1. This Code applies to all public officials.
2. For the purpose of this Code "public official" means a person employed by a public authority.
3. The provisions of this Code may also be applied to persons employed by private organisations performing public services.
4. The provisions of this Code do not apply to publicly elected representatives, members of the government and holders of judicial office.
1. On the coming into effect of this Code, the public administration has a duty to inform public officials about its provisions.
2. This Code shall form part of the provisions governing the employment of public officials from the moment they certify that they have been informed about it.
3. Every public official has the duty to take all necessary action to comply with the provisions of this Code.
Article 3 – Object of the Code
The purpose of this Code is to specify the standards of integrity and conduct to be observed by public officials, to help them meet those standards and to inform the public of the conduct it is entitled to expect of public officials.
1. The public official should carry out his or her duties in accordance with the law, and with those lawful instructions and ethical standards which relate to his or her functions.
2. The public official should act in a politically neutral manner and should not attempt to frustrate the lawful policies, decisions or actions of the public authorities.
1. The public official has the duty to serve loyally the lawfully constituted national, local or regional authority.
2. The public official is expected to be honest, impartial and efficient and to perform his or her duties to the best of his or her ability with skill, fairness and understanding, having regard only for the public interest and the relevant circumstances of the case.
3. The public official should be courteous both in his or her relations with the citizens he or she serves, as well as in his or her relations with his or her superiors, colleagues and subordinate staff.
In the performance of his or her duties, the public official should not act arbitrarily to the detriment of any person, group or body and should have due regard for the rights, duties and proper interests of all others.
In decision making the public official should act lawfully and exercise his or her discretionary powers impartially, taking into account only relevant matters.
1. The public official should not allow his or her private interest to conflict with his or her public position. It is his or her responsibility to avoid such conflicts of interest, whether real, potential or apparent.
2. The public official should never take undue advantage of his or her position for his or her private interest.
The public official has a duty alwaysto conduct himself or herself in a way that the public's confidence and trust in the integrity, impartiality and effectiveness of the public service are preserved and enhanced.
The public official is accountable to his or her immediate hierarchical superior unless otherwise prescribed by law.
Having due regard for the right of access to official information, the public official has a duty to treat appropriately, with all necessary confidentiality, all information and documents acquired by him or her in the course of, or as a result of, his or her employment.
Article 12 – Reporting
1. The public official who believes he or she is being required to act in a way which is unlawful, improper or unethical, which involves maladministration, or which is otherwise inconsistent with this Code, should report the matter in accordance with the law.
2. The public official should, in accordance with the law, report to the competent authorities if he or she becomes aware of breaches of this Code by other public officials.
3. The public official who has reported any of the above in accordance with the law and believes that the response does not meet his or her concern may report the matter in writing to the relevant head of the public service.
4. Where a matter cannot be resolved by the procedures and appeals set out in the legislation on the public service on a basis acceptable to the public official concerned, the public official should carry out the lawful instructions he or she has been given.
5. The public official should report to the competent authorities any evidence, allegation or suspicion of unlawful or criminal activity relating to the public service coming to his or her knowledge in the course of, or arising from, his or her employment. The investigation of the reported facts shall be carried out by the competent authorities.
6. The public administration should ensure that no prejudice is caused to a public official who reports any of the above on reasonable grounds and in good faith.
Article 13 – Conflict of interest
1. Conflict of interest arises from a situation in which the public official has a private interest which is such as to influence, or appear to influence, the impartial and objective performance of his or her official duties.
2. The public official's private interest includes any advantage to himself or herself, to his or her family, close relatives, friends and persons or organisations with whom he or she has or has had business or political relations. It includes also any liability, whether financial or civil, relating thereto.
3. Since the public official is usually the only person who knows whether he or she is in that situation, the public official has a personal responsibility to:
- be alert to any actual or potential conflict of interest;
- take steps to avoid such conflict;
- disclose to his or her supervisor any such conflict as soon as he or she becomes aware of it;
- comply with any final decision to withdraw from the situation or to divest himself or herself of the advantage causing the conflict.
4. Whenever required to do so, the public official should declare whether or not he or she has a conflict of interest.
5. Any conflict of interest declared by a candidate to the public service or to a new post in the public service should be resolved before appointment.
Article 14 – Declaration of interests
The public official who occupies a position in which his or her personal or private interests are likely to be affected by his or her official duties should, as lawfully required, declare upon appointment, at regular intervals thereafter and whenever any changes occur the nature and extent of those interests.
Article 15 – Incompatible outside interests
1. The public official should not engage in any activity or transaction or acquire any position or function, whether paid or unpaid, that is incompatible with or detracts from the proper performance of his or her duties as a public official. Where it is not clear whether an activity is compatible, he or she should seek advice from his or her superior.
2. Subject to the provisions of the law, the public official should be required to notify and seek the approval of his or her public service employer to carry out certain activities, whether paid or unpaid, or to accept certain positions or functions outside his or her public service employment.
3. The public official should comply with any lawful requirement to declare membership of, or association with, organisations that could detract from his or her position or proper performance of his or her duties as a public official.
Article 16 – Political or public activity
1. Subject to respect for fundamental and constitutional rights, the public official should take care that none of his or her political activities or involvement on political or public debates impairs the confidence of the public and his or her employers in his or her ability to perform his or her duties impartially and loyally.
2. In the exercise of his or her duties, the public official should not allow himself or herself to be used for partisan political purposes.
3. The public official should comply with any restrictions on political activity lawfully imposed on certain categories of public officials by reason of their position or the nature of their duties.
Article 17 – Protection of the public official’s privacy
All necessary steps should be taken to ensure that the public official's privacy is appropriately respected; accordingly, declarations provided for in this Code are to be kept confidential unless otherwise provided for by law.
Article 18 – Gifts
1. The public official should not demand or accept gifts, favours, hospitality or any other benefit for himself or his or her family, close relatives and friends, or persons or organisations with whom he or she has or has had business or political relationswhich may influence or appear to influence the impartiality with which he or she carries out his or her duties or may be or appear to be a reward relating to his or her duties. This does not include conventional hospitality or minor gifts.
2. Where the public official is in doubt whether he or she can accept a gift or hospitality, he or she should seek the advice of his or her superior.
Article 19 – Reaction to improper offers
If the public official is offered an undue advantage he or she should take the following steps to protect himself or herself:
- refuse the undue advantage; there is no need to accept it for use as evidence;
- try to identify the person who made the offer;
- avoid lengthy contacts, but knowing the reason for the offer could be useful in evidence;
- if the gift cannot be refused or returned to the sender, it should be preserved,
but handled as little as possible;
- obtain witnesses if possible, such as colleagues working nearby;
- prepare as soon as possible a written record of the attempt, preferably in an official notebook;
- report the attempt as soon as possible to his or her supervisor or directly to the appropriate law enforcement authority;
- continue to work normally, particularly on the matter in relation to which the undue advantage was offered.
Article 20 – Susceptibility to influence by others
The public official should not allow himself or herself to be put, or appear to be put, in a position of obligation to return a favour to any person or body. Nor should his or her conduct in his or her official capacity or in his or her private life make him or her susceptible to the improper influence of others.
Article 21 – Misuse of official position
1. The public official should not offer or give any advantage in any way connected with his or her position as a public official, unless lawfully authorised to do so.
2. The public official should not seek to influence for private purposes any person or body, including other public officials, by using his or her official position or by offering them personal advantages.
Article 22 – Information held by public authorities
1. Having regard to the framework provided by domestic law for access to information held by public authorities, a public official should only disclose information in accordance with the rules and requirements applying to the authority by which he or she is employed.
2. The public official should take appropriate steps to protect the security and confidentiality of information for which he or she is responsible or of which he or she becomes aware.
3. The public official should not seek access to information which it is inappropriate for him or her to have. The public official should not make improper use of information which he or she may acquire in the course of, or arising from, his or her employment.
4. Equally the public official has a duty not to withhold official information that should properly be released and a duty not to provide information which he or she knows or has reasonable ground to believe is false or misleading.
Article 23 – Public and official resources
In the exercise of his or her discretionary powers, thepublic official should ensure that on the one hand the staff, and on the other hand the public property, facilities, services and financial resources with which he or she is entrusted are managed and used effectively, efficiently and economically. They should not be used for private purposes except when permission is lawfully given.
Article 24 – Integrity checking
1. The public official who has responsibilities for recruitment, promotion or posting should ensure that appropriate checks on the integrity of the candidate are carried out as lawfully required.
2. If the result of any such check makes him or her uncertain as to how to proceed, he or she should seek appropriate advice.
Article 25 – Supervisory accountability
1. The public official who supervises or manages other public officials should do so in accordance with the policies and purposes of the public authority for which he or she works. He or she should be answerable for acts or omissions by his or her staff which are not consistent with those policies and purposes if he or she has not taken those reasonable steps required from a person in his or her position to prevent such acts or omissions.
2. The public official who supervises or manages other public officials should take reasonable steps to prevent corruption by his or her staff in relation to his or her office. These steps may include emphasising and enforcing rules and regulations, providing appropriate education or training, being alert to signs of financial or other difficulties of his or her staff, and providing by his or her personal conduct an example of propriety and integrity.
Article 26 – Leaving the public service
1. The public official should not take improper advantage of his or her public office to obtain the opportunity of employment outside the public service.
2. The public official should not allow the prospect of other employment to create for him or her an actual, potential or apparent conflict of interest. He or she should immediately disclose to his or her supervisor any concrete offer of employment that could create a conflict of interest. He or she should also disclose to his or her superior his or her acceptance of any offer of employment.
3. In accordance with the law, for an appropriate period of time, the former public official should not act for any person or body in respect of any matter on which he or she acted for, or advised, the public service and which would result in a particular benefit to that person or body.
4. The former public official should not use or disclose confidential information acquired by him or her as a public official unless lawfully authorised to do so.
5. The public official should comply with any lawful rules that apply to him or her regarding the acceptance of appointments on leaving the public service.
Article 27 – Dealing with former public officials
The public official should not give preferential treatment or privileged access to the public service to former public officials.
Article 28 – Observance of this Code and sanctions
1. This Code is issued under the authority of the minister or of the head of the public service. The public official has a duty to conduct himself or herself in accordance with this Code and therefore to keep himself or herself informed of its provisions and any amendments. He or she should seek advice from an appropriate source when he or she is unsure of how to proceed.
2. Subject to Article 2, paragraph 2, the provisions of this Code form part of the terms of employment of the public official. Breach of them may result in disciplinary action.
3. The public official who negotiates terms of employment should include in them a provision to the effect that this Code is to be observed and forms part of such terms.
4. The public official who supervises or manages other public officials has the responsibility to see that they observe this Code and to take or propose appropriate disciplinary action for breaches of it.
5. The public administration will regularly review the provisions of this Code.