IOM is committed to eliminating inappropriate and abusive conduct by IOM personnel against IOM personnel, and has adopted a Policy for a Respectful Working Environment which prohibits i) discrimination; ii) harassment, including sexual harassment; and iii) abuse of authority.

Harassment is any improper or unwelcome conduct by IOM personnel against IOM personnel, whether verbal or physical, that might reasonably be expected or perceived to cause offence or humiliation. Harassment may take the form of words, gestures, or actions which threaten, abuse, demean, isolate, belittle, cause personal humiliation or embarrassment, when such conduct interferes with work or creates an offensive, hostile, or intimidating work environment.

Sexual harassment is any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature by IOM personnel against IOM personnel 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 when it creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. Sexual harassment may occur in the workplace or in connection with work for example, when commuting to and from work, during or outside working hours, during work-related activities (such as travel, training, events or social activities) and through electronic communications.

Sexual harassment should not be confused with sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA), which is explained at the following page  

Harassment and sexual harassment are types of Abusive Conduct and constitute misconduct. Abusive Conduct also includes (i) discrimination and (ii) abuse of authority. Discrimination is any unfair treatment or arbitrary distinction based on a person’s race, sex, sexual orientation, gender, identity, gender expression, sex characteristics, religion, nationality, ethnic origin, disability, age, language, social origin, or other similar shared characteristic or trait. Abuse of authority is the improper use of a position of influence, power or authority against another person, such as career or employment conditions. Abuse of authority may also include conduct that creates a hostile or offensive work environment and includes, but is not limited to, the use of intimidation, threats, blackmail, or coercion.

Examples of cases of Abusive Conduct at IOM that resulted in disciplinary measures
  • Staff member made inappropriate and disrespectful comments including racist language, concerning another staff member;
  • Staff member sent a sexually explicit, offensive and disrespectful email to supervisor;
  • Staff member threatened two staff members and yelled at one of them;
  • Staff member assaulted a colleague while on duty and within IOM premises;
  • Staff member sexually harassed another staff member.
Inappropriate conduct

Inappropriate conduct is conduct by IOM personnel against IOM personnel which is inconsistent with the principles for a respectful working environment, but may not rise to the level of abusive conduct/misconduct. It can and should still however be addressed through informal resolution (see “Early intervention and the informal process”, below).

Moreover, the existence of disagreement, conflict, inappropriate or unwelcome behaviour does not necessarily mean abusive conduct has occurred, if it can be reasonably explained.

Early intervention and the informal process

Any member of IOM personnel who believes they have been affected by inappropriate or abusive conduct is encouraged to informally resolve the situation. It is not mandatory for IOM personnel to pursue informal approaches, however, they offer affected individuals the opportunity to resolve any matter of concern in an open, honest, non-threatening, non-contentious, voluntary, and flexible manner. The use of informal resolution mechanisms does not prevent IOM personnel from later formally reporting to the Office of Internal Oversight (OIO).

IOM personnel are encouraged to resolve situations directly when possible and as early as possible. Affected individuals may, on a voluntary basis and if they feel safe doing so, approach alleged offenders about instances of possible inappropriate or abusive conduct and ask for such conduct to stop.

IOM personnel with managerial duties may intervene in situations of alleged inappropriate or abusive conduct with respect to those they supervise. Affected individuals may raise the matter with their supervisors or a higher-level manager to draw their attention to instances of possible inappropriate or abusive conduct on the part of an alleged offender and ask for assistance in stopping such conduct.

Supervisors may bring the matter to the attention of the alleged offender to prevent reoccurrence of the possibly inappropriate or abusive conduct and resolve the matter. 

Affected individuals may prefer and are encouraged to seek informal assistance from the Office of the Ombudsperson (OOM) and its Respectful Workplace Focal Points (RWFP) Network.

Formal Process

If the informal process fails or if the IOM personnel chooses not to use it, a formal report of alleged abusive conduct may be submitted to IOM’s Office of Internal Oversight (OIO). This can be done through, directly to OIO investigations personnel, or through IOM’s misconduct reporting platform, “We Are All In” ( Formal reports received by other offices or persons should promptly be referred to OIO by the recipient, without further distribution.

While IOM personnel have a duty to report misconduct they become aware of, even if they are not directly concerned, abusive conduct as outlined above should be reported with due care and consideration for the preferred option of the affected individual. IOM personnel reporting misconduct in good faith have the right to be protected against retaliation (see 

Formal reports may be made anonymously. Formal reports are generally subject to time-limits.

Interim Measures

Pending a preliminary assessment, formal process or subsequent disciplinary process, OIO and/or the Office of Legal Affairs (LEG) may alert the relevant Administrative Head or the Department of Human Resources Management (DHR) that interim measures should be considered. This may be needed, for example, to protect the integrity of an investigation, prevent the occurrence or repetition of possible abusive conduct and/or address risks of possible retaliation. Such measures may include: 

  • Physical separation of the alleged offender and the affected individual; 
  • Identification of alternative duties for the affected individual or alleged offender; 
  • Instituting flexible working arrangements for either the alleged offender or the affected individual; 
  • Consideration of special leave with full pay for either the alleged offender or the affected individual; 
  • Temporary changes in reporting lines; 
  • Suspension from duty of a staff member with or without pay


It can be hard to differentiate between types of misconduct. You don’t need to know the type of misconduct to be able to report. If you experience or witness any potential misconduct, wrongdoing or if you feel something is wrong, you should report it to IOM’s Office of Internal Oversight (OIO) through IOM’s misconduct reporting platform, “We Are All In” ( or by email to, even if you are unsure what type of misconduct it is.


Last updated: March 2024