Information disclosure policy
This Executive Directive establishes the Information Disclosure Policy of the United Nations Children’s Fund (‘UNICEF’).
UNICEF is committed to making information about its programmes and operations available to the public. UNICEF considers public access to information a key component of effective participation of all stakeholders, including the public, in the achievement of its mandate. UNICEF recognises that there is a positive correlation between transparency, including through information-sharing, and public trust in UNICEF-supported development work and humanitarian response.
UNICEF management is accountable to the UNICEF Executive Board, which is comprised of United Nations Member States and is a part of the United Nations Economic and Social Council. UNICEF management considers that public access to UNICEF information further facilitates UNICEF’s transparency and accountability.
This Information Disclosure Policy (this ‘Policy’) is intended to ensure that information concerning UNICEF programmes and operations is available to the public, subject to the limitations set out in this Policy. As stated in the Report on the Accountability System at UNICEF, UNICEF Executive Board document E/ICEF/2009/15 (the ‘Accountability Report’), ‘UNICEF will make available reliable and timely information about existing conditions, decisions and actions relating to the activities of the organisation, in an accessible, visible and understandable fashion, unless the information is deemed confidential.’ (¶ 14(g)).
Definition of ‘information’
For purposes of this Policy, ‘Information’ means any produced content, whatever its medium (paper, electronic or sound, visual or audiovisual recording), concerning a matter relating to the policies, activities and decisions of UNICEF.
Scope of this policy
This Policy applies to all Information in the possession of UNICEF.
General principle of access to information
Information should be accessible and disclosed, subject to the limitations set forth in this Policy.
Accessibility of information
Information accessible to the public shall be made available, as much as possible, reasonable and practical, on one or more of the UNICEF public-access websites or websites of the United Nations System (such as the public-access websites maintained by a United Nations Country Team for any particular country). A selected list of Information publicly presently available (or being made available on an on-going basis) through various means, including through the UNICEF global website and individual UNICEF Country Office websites or UN Country Team websites, is listed in Annex A.
Restricted access to information
The Policy excludes data that exist in raw form, either physically or electronically. UNICEF is not in a position to respond to requests that require the selection and/or manipulation of data to produce content.
Confidential Information is not subject to disclosure. The Accountability Report (¶2), approved by the UNICEF Executive Board, requires the following categories of information to be classified as ‘Confidential Information’:
- Information received from or sent to third parties, with an expectation of confidentiality;
- Information whose disclosure is likely to endanger the safety or security of any individual, violate his or her rights, or invade his or her privacy;
- Information whose disclosure is likely to endanger the security of Member States or prejudice the security or proper conduct of any operation or activity of the organisation;
- Information covered by legal privilege or regulatory proceedings, or that subjects the organisation to an undue risk of litigation, or is related to internal audits and investigations;
- Internal inter-office or intra-office documents, including e-mails and draft documents;
- Commercial information, if disclosure would harm either the financial interests of the organisation or those of other parties involved;
- Information which the organisation believes would, if disclosed, seriously undermine a policy dialogue with a Member State or an implementing partner; and
- Other kinds of Information which, because of its content or the circumstances of its creation or communication, must be deemed confidential.
The definition of ‘Confidential Information’ should be understood in a way that favours disclosure as much as possible without contravening this Policy.
If only a part of the Information that is responsive to a particular request for disclosure is subject to one of the limitations set out in this Policy, UNICEF may decide, at its discretion, that the remaining part of the Information, responsive to that request, will be disclosed, and will take appropriate measures to preserve the confidentiality of the Information that is not disclosed.
Decisions of the UNICEF Executive Board, and other UNICEF or United Nations policies, procedures or practices, may contain Information disclosure limitations. This includes but is not limited to UNICEF Executive Board decision 2009/8 on disclosure of UNICEF internal audit reports only to Member States. Nothing in or relating to this Policy will be deemed in any way to abridge, modify or abolish the application of those UNICEF Executive Board decisions, or other UNICEF or United Nations policies, procedures or practices.
Privileges and immunities of the United Nations including UNICEF
Nothing in or relating to this Policy will be deemed a waiver, express or implied, of any of the privileges and immunities of the United Nations, including its subsidiary organs, pursuant to the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, 1946, or otherwise. Without limiting the generality of the previous sentence, the disclosure of Information in response to a request for disclosure, will not constitute a waiver, express or implied, of any of the privileges and immunities of the United Nations, including its subsidiary organs, pursuant to the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, 1946, or otherwise.
Processing of information requests
Any person or organisation may request the disclosure of UNICEF’s non-Confidential Information that is not otherwise available through UNICEF public-access websites or websites of the United Nations System.
Information requests should be handled by the head of the relevant UNICEF country or regional office, or headquarters Division or office. All media enquiries should be handled by the UNICEF communications staff.
The UNICEF official responsible for handling a request for Information that may be Confidential should seek guidance from the UNICEF Legal Counsel in the Office of the Executive Director, New York Headquarters and, as appropriate, the Director, Supply Division Copenhagen (where the request relates to vendor relations or procurement issues) or the Director, Division of Human Resources New York Headquarters (where the request relates to human resource issues).
All Information requests will be handled promptly. The requestor should expect to receive an acknowledgement of receipt of the request within ten (10) working days (in New York). Depending on the complexity of the request, UNICEF will endeavour to handle all requests within thirty (30) days after the acknowledgment of receipt is sent. For information requests that involve the reproduction of material, UNICEF may charge a fee for material and labor cost, which will be communicated to the requestor and will need to be paid in advance.
UNICEF may partially or wholly deny a request, as follows:
- In accordance with the limitations set out or referred to in this Policy;
- If the request is deemed by UNICEF to be an excessive demand upon UNICEF’s resources; or
- If the request, in the judgment of UNICEF, appears to be frivolous.
If a request is denied, the requestor may seek the review of the decision by addressing a letter to the UNICEF Deputy Executive Director for Management. The Deputy Executive Director for Management will review the handling of the request for Information and make a determination on how to proceed. That review should normally be completed within sixty (60) days of being requested. The outcome of the review will be communicated to the requestor and there will be no requirement for providing a detailed explanation of the outcome of the review.
Reproduction of information
The implementation of this Policy will be subject to existing rules on intellectual property and other proprietary rights including, but not limited to, patents, copyrights, and trademarks, which may, inter alia, limit a third party’s right to reproduce or exploit information.
This document will be available in the working languages of UNICEF: English, French, and Spanish. This document may also be made available in the other official languages of the United Nations at a later time.
No representation is made or warranty given, express or implied, as to the completeness or accuracy of Information made available by UNICEF. The requestor shall apply discretion when using the Information made available by UNICEF. UNICEF will not be liable for any direct or indirect loss arising from the use of the Information.
The UNICEF Information Security Policy, promulgated by Executive Directive CF/EXD/2003/23, is hereby abolished.
The Policy shall enter into force on the date this Executive Directive it is issued.
Overview of UNICEF information available on dedicated UNICEF or United Nations Internet websites
A great deal of information about UNICEF’s governance, programmes and operations is available on the UNICEF global website (www.unicef.org) and on the individual websites of UNICEF country offices. A selected list of such information, including information that is progressively being made available, is set out below.
I. Information about UNICEF programmes
- The UNICEF Medium-Term Strategic Plan is available on the UNICEF global website.
- Country Programme Documents. Country Programme Documents are public documents of the UNICEF Executive Board and are available on the UNICEF global website under ‘Executive Board documents’.
- Inter-Country Programme documents. Inter-country programme documents are public documents of the UNICEF Executive Board and are available on the UNICEF global website under ‘Executive Board documents’.
- Country Office, Regional Office, and Headquarters Divisional Annual Reports. Annual Reports prepared by UNICEF Country Offices, Regional Offices, and Headquarters Divisions (where these are prepared), are being made available on UNICEF’s public websites starting with the annual reports for 2010.
- Evaluation Reports. An overview of the UNICEF evaluation activities is prepared annually and presented to the UNICEF Executive Board. These reports are public documents of the UNICEF Executive Board and are available on the UNICEF global website under ‘Executive Board documents’.
II. Information about UNICEF operations
- UNICEF Executive Board. Information relating to the work of the UNICEF Executive Board and its meetings (including background documentation and decisions) is available on the UNICEF global website under ‘Executive Board documents’.
- UNICEF Executive Office. Statements and speeches by the Executive Director are available on the UNICEF global website.
- UNICEF Financial Information. All relevant documentation on the UNICEF budget as approved by the UNICEF Executive Board, including the financial report and audited financial statements, the annual review of the financial situation including source of funding, and the annual report of UNICEF’s Office of Internal Audit, are available on the UNICEF global website under ‘Executive Board documents’. UNICEF’s audited financial statements are also published and posted every biennium on the UN General Assembly website.
- UNICEF Procurement. UNICEF makes public (a) its major international procurement solicitation notices issued; and (b) its international contracts awarded. These are made public at UNICEF Supply Division website and the UN Global Marketplace. The UNICEF Supply Division website also provides annual procurement data by vendor, country, amount, type of services/goods, etc.
- UNICEF Policies and Procedures. UNICEF’s policies and procedures are progressively being made available on the UNICEF global website.