Key terms from A to Z


At CERN, demonstrating accountability means taking responsibility and being accountable for own actions. (CERN Competency Model).

Active bystander

In a context of misconduct, an active bystander is a witness who “challenges poor behaviours and brings about cultural change through the reinforcement of messages defining the boundaries of unacceptable behaviour.” (CERN Training catalogue)


At CERN, “Members of the personnel shall conduct themselves with due regard to the interests and proper functioning of the Organization.” (Staff Rules; S I 3.01)

Code of conduct

CERN Code of conduct is a guide in helping CERN contributors to understand how to conduct ourselves, treat others and expect to be treated. “Our code of Conduct sets out in black and white the basic standards and rules of behaviour that we can expect to find in the workplace, and it provides guidance on how our actions may influence and support the good reputation of CERN.” (CERN Code of conduct)

Conflict of interest 

At CERN, conflicts of interests mean situations in which impartiality and objectivity of members of the personnel in the performance of their functions for CERN or in the fulfilment of their contractual obligations towards the Organization could be influenced or compromised by private interests or any other professional obligations or relationships.

Members of personnel are required to avoid such situations. Where it is impossible to avoid or if in doubt, members of the personnel shall promptly disclose to the Organization that they have or may have a conflict of interest. (Staff Rules; S I 3.13)


At CERN a disciplinary action may be decided as a response to misconduct.

“The Director-General may take disciplinary action against members of the personnel who, whether intentionally or through carelessness, are guilty of a breach of the Rules and Regulations or of misconduct that is to the detriment of the Organization.” (Staff Rules; S VI 2.01)


At CERN, “the Organization promotes the added value of workforce diversity, reaffirms equality of treatment and does not discriminate between members of its personnel, in particular with regard to nationality, gender, age, profession and individual differences such as belief, opinion, sexual orientation or disability.” (Staff Rules and Regulations; Preamble)


"Ethics means a system of accepted rules about behaviour, based on what is considered right and wrong”. (Cambridge Dictionary).

At CERN, the ethics-related framework aims to guide CERN contributors to act in accordance with CERN’s values and the conduct expected from them, and to establish and maintain a respectful working environment.


At CERN fraud means “any intentional act or omission designed to deceive others and to achieve a gain for the perpetrator or a third party, resulting in the Organization suffering a loss of funds, property or reputation.” (SRR S I 3.12)

It includes, but is not limited to, deception, bribery, forgery, extortion, corruption, theft, embezzlement, misappropriation, false representation, and concealment of material facts.

Operational Circular N°10 “Principles and procedures governing investigation of fraud” specifies the definition of fraud and set out the Organization’s fraud investigation process pursuant to the CERN Anti-Fraud Policy and in accordance with the principles of due process. 


At CERN, harassment means unwelcome behaviour that has the effect of violating a person's dignity and/or creating a hostile work environment. Harassment is detrimental to health and safety at the workplace and the good functioning of the Organization in general. For these reasons, the Organization does not tolerate harassment, which can result in administrative and/or disciplinary action.

The scope and criteria qualifying Harassment is developed and strictly defined in Operational Circular N°9 “Principles and procedures governing complaints of harassment”.


At CERN, Integrity is one of the five CERN’s values driving the Code of conduct. It means “Behaving ethically, with intellectual honesty and being accountable for one’s own actions.”. “A high standard of integrity in the performance of our work and in our relationships with others promotes a culture of trust and responsibility.” (CERN Code of conduct)


At CERN, misconduct refers to unacceptable or illegal behaviour by a member of personnel such as inappropriate behaviour, breach of the Code of Conduct, conflict of interests, harassment, fraud that could result in a disciplinary action. 


At CERN, CERN contributors are expected to:

  • Respect the privacy of others and protect personal information given to us in confidence.
  • Maintain a professional environment characterized by good working relations and an atmosphere of tolerance and mutual respect.
  • Respect and value differences.
  • Treat others with tact, courtesy and respect.

(CERN Code of conduct)


Values means beliefs that people have about what is right, wrong, and most important in life, business, etc. which control their behaviour. (Cambridge Dictionary)

At CERN, values of the Organisation are commitment, professionalism, creativity, diversity and integrity. Taken together they provide the basis for respect: respect for others, respect for the Organization and respect for its mission. (CERN Code of conduct)

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