Ethics in UNICEF supply operations

UNICEF promotes and maintains the highest level of ethical standards, which are upheld and observed in all our relationships and business activities with donors, suppliers, governments and other partners.

Two young girls pose for a photograph outside of their house in Tunkia, near to Kenema in Sierra Leone, in February 2016.

Our ethical culture is established and applied in procurement activities, in order to protect accountability, integrity, fairness and transparency across our supply chains. We expect our supply partners to respect and commit themselves to UNICEF ethical values and policies when conducting business with us.

UNICEF has a zero-tolerance policy toward unethical behaviour, fraud and corruption.

UNICEF requires that suppliers support our core ethical values by conducting business with integrity, treating others with respect, striving for performance excellence and accepting accountability for their conduct. All suppliers are therefore expected to comply with UNICEF key values, including:


UNICEF suppliers shall operate in accordance with the highest standards of integrity, including honesty, truthfulness and fairness. They must maintain an objective and independent attitude, avoid conflicts of interest and engage only in fair trade.  

Accountability, transparency and fairness

UNICEF suppliers shall be accountable for the proper discharge of their functions, their decisions and actions. Suppliers are expected to participate in procurement processes in a manner that is transparent, fair and accountable; and their own corporate procurement activities must be in compliance with UNICEF ethical values and principles.

Respect, care and trust

UNICEF suppliers shall respect the human rights, dignity and worth of all persons, and they shall act with understanding, tolerance, sensitivity and respect for diversity without discrimination of any kind.

In the early morning, in Mendi, Papua New Guinea, two young children walk to school, one of them with his arm over the other one's shoulders, in March 2019.

United Nations Supplier Code of Conduct  

The United Nations Supplier Code of Conduct (Code of Conduct) was developed from the core values outlined in the Charter of the United Nations, the principles of the Global Compact and International Labour Organization (ILO) standards. The Code of Conduct provides the minimum standards expected of UN Suppliers during procurement processes. The UN expects these principles to apply to suppliers and their employees, parent, subsidiary or affiliate entities and subcontractors. Suppliers doing business with UNICEF are required to acknowledge and comply with the Code of Conduct, which addresses:

  • Labour conditions: Freedom of association, no forced or compulsory labour, no child labour, no discrimination, and proper standards for working conditions.  
  • Human rights: No harassment, no harsh or inhumane treatment, no manufacture or sale of mines.  
  • Environmental considerations: Compliance with regulations, management of chemical and hazardous materials, waste and air emissions, while minimizing waste and maximizing recycling.  
  • Ethical conduct: Declaration of conflicts of interest, no corruption, no gift and hospitality, and application of post-employment restrictions.

Find out more

The UN strongly encourages all suppliers to actively participate in the Global Compact – a voluntary international network advancing responsible corporate citizenship and universal social and environmental principles. For more information, please visit the Global Compact website.

UNICEF considers the impact of businesses on the rights and well-being of children. Find out more about Children’s Rights and Business Principles. The principles serve as inspiration and a guide for UNICEF and businesses in our work and our interactions with children.

UNICEF suppliers have the obligation to comply with our General Terms and Conditions (GTCs), which are annexed to and form an integral part of every UNICEF contract, long-term agreement or solicitation document. In addition to the general contractual provisions, the GTCs put particular emphasis on our ethical standards, which cover the following topics:

  • Anti-fraud and anti-corruption  
  • Safeguarding of children
  • Sexual exploitation and abuse
  • Post-employment restrictions
  • Conflict of interest disclosure
  • Sanctions and suspension

UNICEF is committed to conducting business with suppliers that share our values and respect children’s rights, human dignity and fair trade. UNICEF may terminate a contract with immediate effect and no liability in case of breach of ethical standards outlined in the GTCs. This may also result in suppliers being suspended or forbidden from continuing business relations with UNICEF.  

Find out more about our key procurement policies applicable to suppliers, including on fraud and corruption, and protection and safeguarding of children.


Supplier feedback and complaints:

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Your views are important to us and your feedback and complaints are taken seriously at UNICEF. If you have any complaints, please contact UNICEF Supply Division Quality Assurance Centre at

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Ethical Complaints concerning UNICEF staff, consultants, non-staff personnel and vendors can be reported by email to the UNICEF Office of Internal Audit and Investigation (OIAI) via email to