CODE OF CONDUCT ESTABLISH MEASURES TO LIMIT INTERACTION REJECT PARTNERSHIPS AND AGREEMENTS AVOID CONFLICTS OF INTEREST FOR GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS AND EMPLOYEES
These three recommendations go hand in hand. They govern the behavior of the state, its agencies, instrumentalities, and personnel vis-à-vis the tobacco industry. To promote compliance, governments can:
a. Develop policies for all concerned government agencies and officials to avoid or limit interaction with, prevent conflicts of interests with, and reject any partnerships or agreements with or contributions from the tobacco industry. This should include laws that prohibit campaign contributions to political parties or politicians. Many of these can be embodied in codes of conduct, amendments of laws on public officials (e.g., anti-graft and corrupt practices laws, codes of ethical conduct, election laws, rules governing public service, implementing rules and regulations of government agencies).
b. Develop and implement an action plan and process on how to reject interactions / partnerships / agreements / contributions, or offers of the same, made by the tobacco industry. This includes establishing a process for divestment of tobacco industry interests, incorporate a “no tobacco industry relationship” clause into contracts, and integrate safeguards in codes of conduct and anti-corruption programs. This also involves identification of the proper authority to monitor and enforce policies.
c. Adopt personnel and hiring policies consistent with preventing conflicts of interests.
d. Adopt transparency measures, such as public notices, public participation, and public records of meetings with the tobacco industry that are deemed strictly necessary.
In the Philippines, the DOH and the CSC issued Joint Memorandum Circular 2010-01 to protect the bureaucracy from tobacco industry interference. The circular prohibits all interactions with the tobacco industry unless strictly necessary for regulation, and mandates the reporting of any incident of tobacco industry interference. All tenured government officials are subject of disciplinary action for violation of the policy.
In Australia, the public is notified of any necessary meetings with the tobacco industry and the minutes of these meetings are posted online.
What is the role of the “Code of Conduct for Public Officials” in implementing Article 5.3 of the WHO FCTC?
A set of rules under the Article 5.3 Guidelines applies specifically to the conduct of government officials and employees. Recommendation 4 of the Guidelines states that governments must ensure that their officials and employees avoid conflicts of interests and make reference to the International Code of Conduct for Public Officials adopted by the United Nations General Assembly.
In order to effectively implement the Article 5.3 policies relating to conflicts of interest, the pertinent provisions would need to be introduced and incorporated into national legislation or administrative frameworks of countries’ codes of conduct. This might require adjustments of existing legal and administrative provisions or the addition of new ones in order to make the codes enforceable. Also, provisions containing requirements for the training of public officials may have to be introduced in the national legislation or administrative guidelines.
Institutional adjustments may also be required, including the appointment of focal persons or designation of bodies that will coordinate, provide technical assistance and training, and oversee implementation.
INTEGRATION INTO CODES OF CONDUCT
The Article 5.3 Guidelines imply the recognition of the existence of codes of conduct and laws in many countries relating to public officials’ ethical standards.
Implementation of provisions relating to the code of conduct of government officials may be done through a systematic integration of the principles and recommendations of the Article 5.3 Guidelines into existing codes of conduct. This is a more practical approach as opposed to creating and implementing a whole new code of conduct since most of the countries in the region already have in place comprehensive codes of conduct for all categories of public officials.
It must be noted that while some countries have distinct codes of conduct applicable only to high-, medium-, or low-level officials, respectively, others have codes of conduct for specific categories of public officials. Article 5.3 policies must be consistently integrated into each of these categories, where applicable.
Notably, agencies that are likely to be targeted by the tobacco industry, such as ministries of trade, investment, agriculture, labor, customs, and finance, would benefit the most from strict codes of conduct that take into account the recommendations of Article 5.3 of the FCTC. Such offices should consider providing specific mechanisms to protect decisions relating to tobacco from tobacco industry influence. In most countries, codes of conduct are incorporated into both domestic laws and administrative policies. In such cases, corresponding amendments and adjustments must be made in these laws and corresponding policies to reflect the principles and recommendations found in the Article 5.3 Guidelines.
Fortunately, many countries had the opportunity to review their respective codes of conduct for public officials in conjunction with their adoption of the United Nations Convention against Corruption of 2003 (UNCAC), which entered into force on 14 December 2005. The ongoing reviews of the codes of conduct in compliance with the UNCAC present an opportunity to introduce provisions consistent with Article 5.3 of the WHO FCTC.
A set of assessment questions that will help in determining the extent of adjustments that need to be done to adopt codes of conduct based on the recommendations embodied in the Article 5.3 Guidelines.
This section pertains to Code of Conduct provisions recommended for government agencies in the Philippines. Like most countries, each government agency in the Philippines has a Code of Conduct, and hence, the policy adopted is one that calls for its amendment, and not the development of a new one.
B. PROCESSES AND ACTION POINTS
Below is a sample set of actions required to encourage behavior that prevents tobacco industry interference based on what is obliged under the DOH DM. These guidelines provide for processes and action points, such as steps to reject contributions from the tobacco industry, and a requirement to incorporate “no tobacco industry relationship” clauses into all contracts. In addition, these guidelines identify the person/office where reports should be submitted.
Aware of the higher level of risk and responsibility with respect to tobacco industry interference, the Philippine Department of Health went a step further than the Civil Service initiative on amending the Code of Conduct, and provided specific guidelines on how health officials should take action to denormalize tobacco industry’s so-called CSR activities. It appointed a division to take charge of this function in order to assist the rest of the department as well as other civil servants in implementing the policies geared towards implementing Article 5.3.
This letter may be published as a response to the tobacco industry’s invitation or offer of partnership or assistance.
This list gives the indicators of success in adopting policies consistent with the Article 5.3 Guidelines.
C. PERSONNEL POLICIES
Separate personnel policies may also be necessary to ensure full implementation of Article 5.3 of the WHO FCTC relating to government officials. One example is a hiring policy to ensure that no member of the tobacco industry or anyone representing its interests is hired in a position that exerts influence on tobacco control policies. Other policies and programs may also be useful, such as a divestment program, to ensure that all interests in the tobacco industry are divested.
These types of policies also serve to raise awareness about tobacco industry interference. The lure of high income from tobacco industry investments or employment can be offset by the prospect that such investment or employment creates a disqualification for certain types of public office in the future.
MODEL HIRING POLICY
Guidelines for hiring and firing of government personnel are often documented in memos or human resource manuals. Such a policy can be issued as a department memorandum or an order by a centralized personnel agency of the government.
D. TRANSPARENCY MEASURES
The government can take measures to promote transparency of any meetings with the tobacco industry. This is an example of a public notification of tobacco industry meetings set up on Australia’s website. It lists down meetings and issues discussed.