Code of conduct for co-workers and employees of medico international e.V.

1. Preamble and objective of the Code of Conduct

medico international fights for the human right to health, provides support for  people in need, and works on eliminating the structural causes of poverty and exclusion. In solidarity with socially excluded and marginalised people in the Global South, medico works to promote humane living conditions for people which maximise health and social justice. The goal is not merely to reduce poverty, needs and violence, but to identify and overcome their causes. The problem in the world is not too little aid, but rather the conditions that make more and more aid necessary.

For medico, aid is part of comprehensive political action in solidarity. Core issues are support for emancipatory processes and partnership-based cooperation with actors in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Our partners are not passive recipients of aid, but competent actors in the struggle for better living conditions. Despite our efforts to work on equal footing with partner organisations and people in the Global South, we are aware of the structurally asymmetrical donor-recipient relationship in the aid sector, just as we perceive the ambivalent consequences which aid can involve. The aim of this Code of Conduct is to define clear guidelines for our actions and make them transparent.

2. Scope of application

The Code of Conduct and associated provisions for implementation (hereinafter referred to as “policies”) apply to all employees and co-workers, i.e.:

  • all employees of medico international e.V., regardless of their place of work and type of contract (e.g. management, staff, temporary staff, trainee),
  • freelancers working in the scope of work or service contracts or fee-based contracts for medico international e.V., if their activities involve risks of abuse of power or other misconduct (e.g. during project visits),
  • volunteers working for medico international e.V..

Members of the organisation’s bodies (i.e. members of the Executive Board, members of the Audit Committee and the ombudsperson) undertake a self commitment to adhere to the Code of Conduct.

The provisions of the Code of Conduct must also be complied with outside working hours if a clear connection with medico international e.V. can be established.

3. Principles for the work of medico international

3.1 Human rights

medico stands at the side of those committed to the defence and implementation of indivisible social, political and economic human rights. We pledge ourselves to respect, protect and promote human rights under international law, and commit to the continuing struggle to implement and expand it. The political and conceptual framework for our activities is formed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966), which define health as a human right. These include all other human rights conventions as well as the World Health Organization (WHO) Declaration on Primary Health Care and Promotion (1978) and the People's Health Charter (2001) adopted by the People's Health Assembly, which adhere to the goal of "health for all". While respecting universal human rights, medico strives to maintain and promote free political and cultural development.

3.2 Partner orientation

Partner orientation is a central element of solidarity-based aid. We understand our work to be acting in solidarity and cooperation, but not as technical and pragmatic action which would reduce people in need to the status of mere aid recipients. Our starting point are the political and social goals we share with our partner organisations in the Global South. Cooperating on the most equal footing possible, the constant exchange of experience and transparency in our interaction with our partners are themselves among these goals. Even then, cooperation cannot be viewed in isolation from the power imbalance prevailing in the world. This is why we attach great importance to ongoing reflection on existing dependencies and individual interests.

In terms of partner orientation, medico international supports further development and professionalisation of partner organisations through consultancy and capacity development (continuing training of personnel and organisational development).

3.3 Effectiveness

Effectiveness requires context-related and networked action. Poverty and violence have their causes in global and local relationships of exploitation and domination which in the long term can only be addressed by changing social structures. In this context, proactive and critical public relations work is central for the effectiveness of our activities. In project and programme work, it is important to achieve, as far as possible, exemplary changes that radiate beyond the concrete project into the respective society.

We engage in global networks, and through public events, publications and campaigns we draw attention to the deeper causes of poverty, exclusion and conflicts. The unifying element of these initiatives is the idea of global balance and fair global relationships. Associated with this, the goal is to establish and promote an effective, transnational counter-public. This brings together the ideas of a humane good life, the conviction that the same rights apply and must be implemented – for everyone, everywhere – and that social responsibility and institutionalised common goods are accessible to all.

For medico as an aid and human rights organisation, this means working on the side of people affected by oppression, forgotten crises and war, and those disadvantaged by globalised capitalism towards a fair world.

We regard the process character of projects and of our relationship with our partner organisations as a social space where more comprehensive alternatives can evolve. We seek sustainable solutions which match our partners’ long-term development goals and can be maintained independently by our partners or the respective target groups.

medico international is committed to the guidelines for development-policy project and programme work of VENRO (Verband Entwicklungspolitik und Humanitäre Hilfe), the umbrella organisation of development and humanitarian aid non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Germany.

  • Policy: Guidelines for impact orientation (in preparation)

3.4 Transparency

We strive for maximum possible transparency of internal procedures. We are committed to proper financial management in compliance with existing legislation and regulations. We provide for verifiable financial accounting and procurement processes and organisational procedures which ensure appropriate use of resources.

We report on our goals and activities in the interests of transparent accountability. We are truthful and honest in all our actions involving soliciting, applying for, using and accounting for funds.

We publish a financial and activity report, which can be reviewed at any time on our website. medico international meets and publishes the requirements of the Transparent Civil Society Initiative and is regularly audited by the German Central Institute for Social Issues (DZI) and certified with the DZI Seal of Approval.

3.5 Integrity and protection against corruption

We refrain from practices in both internal and external dealings which undermine the ethical integrity of our organisation. We accept donations and funding only from sources whose goals are consistent with ours and do not undermine our identity and independence.

We respect the dignity of the people we cooperate with, respecting culture, values and traditional knowledge. However, the imperative to respect foreign culture does not mean that we tolerate and support actions which undermine the human rights of individuals or groups. All medico international employees are obliged to comply with the applicable legal provisions in Germany and abroad.

medico’s business transactions are free from personal and professional conflicts of interest. In order to avoid partiality, all co-workers and employees are required to consult the next higher level in the hierarchy in the event of potential conflicts of interest.

We undertake to comply with the ban on corruption, nepotism and bribery. Corruption, i.e. the abuse of entrusted power for private gain, encourages decisions which are not oriented to the common good or facts based, thus counteracting the self-perception and goals of medico international. This is why corruption is not tolerated in any form. Suspected cases of corruption must be reported to the relevant internal bodies.

3.6 Child protection and protection against sexualised violence

medico international is committed to protecting children[1] from violence and exploitation. Following the WHO definition[2], this applies to physical violence, sexualised violence, psychological and emotional violence and neglect. Child labour[3] is not tolerated, nor is child trafficking, child prostitution, forced recruitment of child soldiers or other exploitative (labour) relationships which by their nature or circumstances put the mental and physical health of children at risk. In this sense we commit to the International Labour Convention (ILO) Convention (no. 182) “Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour”.

medico international does not tolerate any form of sexualised violence, i.e. physical, psychological or verbal exercise of power expressed in unwanted sexually directed actions or transgressions. These include sexual harassment, sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. Decisive for the assessment of whether sexualised violence is involved is the subjective perception of the person affected and not the perpetrator’s intent.

The use of sexualised violence or violence against or exploitation of children entails consequences under labour law and possibly criminal law. The zero tolerance principle applies. Suspected cases must be reported to the relevant internal bodies.

All evidence of sexualised violence or violence against children arising in the context of medico international’s activities will be investigated. Those affected receive protection and immediate assistance, if necessary (e.g. medical, financial and/or psychosocial support). Any information provided will be treated confidentially. People providing information need not fear adverse consequences, even if the indications later turn out to be unfounded. Deliberately false accusations intended to harm others will not be tolerated. Unjustly accused individuals will be rehabilitated.

  • Policy: Guidelines on child protection and protection against sexualised violence (in preparation)

3.7 Diversity and non-discrimination

We regard the diversity of our co-workers, employees and partners as a strength, and do not tolerate discrimination on the basis of age, origin, social class, nationality, colour, gender and gender identity, sexual orientation and identity, religion, belief, permanent or temporary disability or other dimensions of diversity.

medico international promotes a working environment free of prejudice in which diversity, equal opportunity and gender justice are promoted, and all involved show mutual respect and fairness. Decisions on employment and promotion of employees are guided by the principle of equal opportunities.

We are committed internally and externally to a culture of appreciation, regard and respect for personal boundaries. Mobbing and inappropriate, insulting or violent forms of expression in written or spoken form are not tolerated.

3.8 Responsibility

Environmental and climate protection: We are committed to a responsible and sustainable use of natural resources. We take environmental and climate aspects into account in planning and implementing our cooperation activities and in our own actions.

Cost efficiency: We strive for the greatest possible cost efficiency and avoid all forms of resource waste. We commit to using the funds made available to us economically, sparingly and in accordance with our statutes.

Data protection: medico is committed to responsible handling of personal data. Personal data is always treated confidentially, and we ensure that the data and information entrusted to us are securely protected and guarded against unauthorised access. Personal data is only collected and processed to the extent permitted by the legal data protection regulations and internal instructions. Violations of data protection are reported without delay.

  • Policy: medico international data protection concept


This regulation comes into force by decision of the management on 12.11.2019.


[1] Independently of the prevailing national legislation, children are people under 18 (cf. UN Convention).

[2] WHO (2006): Preventing child maltreatment: a guide to taking action and generating evidence, p. 9 et seq.

[3] The minimum age for employment is governed by ILO Convention no. 138.

Corruption Prevention

Guidelines for the work of medico international


Through its work, medico international fights for the human right to the best possible access to health. The working principles of mi include a partner-oriented approach, reliability, cause-driven work, a development orientation and the pursuit of maximum transparency.   
Accountability and transparency are the key prerequisites for the prevention of corruption. Since 1992 the German Central Institute for Social Issues (Deutsches Zentralinstitut für soziale Fragen or DZI) has acknowledged mi's compliance with applicable standards of accountability and transparency and its purposeful and effective use of resources.

These guidelines should serve a preventive function and identify risks in equal measure, while providing a course of action through clear instructions. Our credibility among partners, the target group and donors will thus be further strengthened.

1. Scope

The provisions of these guidelines apply, where not otherwise agreed individually, to:

  • staff in Germany, at overseas facilities and on overseas projects;   
  • German staff on partner projects as part of cooperation efforts with mi;  
  • members of the board;  
  • consultants and other professional persons who work for mi on a contractual or freelance basis.

Like the Code of Conduct, these guidelines are an integral part of full-time, contractual and freelance work agreements as well as partnership agreements and thus serve as a reference for corruption prevention. Violation of the guidelines can lead to immediate termination of contracts and cessation of cooperation.

2. Definition of corruption

For the purposes of these guidelines corruption is defined as the misuse of entrusted power for private gain. This includes the offering, giving, requesting or accepting of gifts, loans, rewards, commissions or any other benefit to or from a third party as an incentive to do something within the scope of normal working relations that is dishonest, illegal or a breach of trust.  
Furthermore the misappropriation of project funds for purposes not agreed, nepotism (cronyism), patronage, the falsification of documents and so-called facilitation payments count as corruption according to the guidelines.  
The following crimes are, among others, instances of corruption: bribery, granting and accepting undue advantage, fraud and embezzlement, competition-restrictive agreements and money laundering.

3. Rules of conduct

The groups named in section one pledge to uphold the following rules:

  • Corruption in any form, whether direct or indirect, is prohibited. This includes the return of parts of a contractual payment (kickback), the use of other means or channels for illegal payments to contractors, suppliers, partners, their employees or public officials and the acceptance of bribes or kickbacks by or for the benefit of relatives.  
  • The payment of bribes or other incentives with the objective of ensuring or accelerating a regulatory process, for which a claim is pending, is not allowed.  
  • The offering or accepting of gifts, entertainment or reimbursement of expenses is prohibited insofar as they adversely affect competition and exceed the framework of sensible and reasonable expenses. The same applies to influencing decisions on project cooperation.

4. Requirements of mi

MI is committed to using the guidelines to combat corruption and is committed to avoiding perceivable conflicts of interest:

  • The Board makes the guidelines a matter of its policies, provides the necessary resources and actively supports management in the guidelines' implementation.  
  • Management ensures that staff in Germany, at overseas facilities and on overseas projects are familiar with and observe the business principles. Awareness of problems must be actively promoted.  
  • It should be clear that no employee will suffer a disadvantage from refusing to pay bribes or render bribery services.  
  • Staff are encouraged to report offences and concerns as early as possible. To this end, secure, accessible and confidential information channels are being put in place. The first stop for external incidents is the executive director and for internal incidents the chairperson of the board or his/her deputy (whistle-blowing).  
  • Particularly at the beginning of the first joint project, partner organisations are to be adequately informed concerning compliance with the principles. Medico reserves the right to repayment. Attention shall be paid to control structures at partner organizations. Solutions for foreseeable project financing gaps at partner organizations must be discussed before the start of projects. In the event of unforeseen financial shortfalls, it should be conveyed to partners that dialogue should be sought to search for appropriate solutions together.  
  • Violations of the rules by mi employees or partner organisations will be dealt with through disciplinary or contractual sanctions (warning, termination, cessation of cooperation, etc.).  
  • MI organizes its procurement practices fairly and transparently and complies with the guidelines when using public funds.  
  • Any indication of corruption will be investigated. Following an assessment of the validity of the allegation further investigatory procedures will be established. The decision-making will lie with an authority outside the investigation process which, when the office itself is affected, is to be selected by the board chairperson. The Board shall be promptly and fully informed in every case.

5. Queries

Queries can be directed to the executive director.

Frankfurt, 29 July 2008

Thomas Gebauer  
Executive Director

The ombudsperson

The ombudsperson – an independent contact person for association members, project partners and staff

medico international e.V. has appointed an independent ombudsperson whose job is to support medico international e.V. in preventing corruption, by addressing issues  and handling grievances.

Association members, project partners and staff who feel obliged to file a complaint regarding (the risk of) corruption or grievances in relation to medico international e.V., its partners/project implementers, or with projects funded by medico international e.V., can contact the ombudsperson to have the issue investigated. The ombudsperson should specifically be used as a contact person when other existing complaints procedures and contacts within the organisation have proved to be inadequate in the view of the person filing the complaint.

The ombudsperson is an impartial and independent post and is not bound by any directives issued by the organisation. This is a voluntary position and the post holder does not receive any remuneration apart from the reimbursement of expenses required to carry out his or her duties.

Contact details for the ombudsperson:

Marie-Luise Rössel-Cunovic   
Certified pedagogue, family therapist, supervisor 
Email: ombudsperson@