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Office of the Ombudsperson


Confidentiality, Neutrality, Independence, Informality

What is the mission of the Ombudsperson?

The mission of the Ombudsperson is to help staff members address workplace issues in a safe, supportive and confidential setting. Four cornerstones support the Ombudsperson’s work – Confidentiality, Neutrality, Independence and Informality. This office is an advocate for important institutional values and principles (justice, civility, respect, integrity) and for fair processes. The Ombudsperson is guided by specific Terms of Reference and PAHO’s Staff Rules and Regulations.


Who does the Ombudsperson report to?

The Ombudsperson is appointed by the Director, upon recommendation of the senior staff selection committee, which includes participation of the Staff Association. The Office of the Ombudsperson is functionally independent of any other part of PAHO and reports to the Deputy Director for administrative purposes only.


What is the level of authority of the Ombudsperson?

The Ombudsperson has direct access to the Director as well as all records concerning personnel (except medical).

The Ombudsperson does not make decisions for people, create or change rules or policies, or require that any action be taken. Impartiality is a cornerstone of the Office; he or she is not an advocate for a particular point of view or for any individual. Rather, by listening carefully and acting as a sounding board, he or she helps identify issues and explore options, facilitates discussions, develops strategies and mediates when possible. The office may refer visitors to other resources inside or outside PAHO, such as a lawyer or counselor, the Ethics Office, Staff Association, Human Resources, Staff Assistance Service, Grievance Panel or Board of Appeal.

Through publication of an annual report and other opportunities, the Ombudsperson identifies recurring issues, reports on trends and patterns observed over time, and makes recommendations that may lead to changes in policies, rules, regulations and practices.


What is the level of confidentiality of the Ombudsperson?

Confidentiality is guaranteed to all visitors to the Office of the Ombudsperson. The single exception is when there is “imminent risk of serious harm.” The Ombudsperson will not share any information or otherwise identify a visitor without that person’s knowledge and permission. The office keeps no records on behalf of the Organization.


Who can use the services of the Ombudsperson?

Anyone who works for PAHO at a PAHO workplace, regardless of the type or duration of appointment, is entitled to the assistance of the Ombudsperson at any time. Contacting the Office of the Ombudsperson is entirely voluntary.


When should you contact the Ombudsperson?

As soon as possible whenever you need help with an issue or concern at work, such as:

  • If you have a problem at work, are not sure where to turn, and wish to discuss the matter in an informal atmosphere with the assurance of confidentiality.
  • If you need information about a rule, regulation or policy at PAHO; feel that you have been treated unfairly; or that a rule, regulation or policy is being inconsistently or incorrectly applied.
  • If you are having a difficult time with a colleague or supervisor.
  • If you are not sure where to go or whom to approach but would like to talk to someone.

How can the Ombudsperson be contacted?

  • By e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Last Updated on Thursday, 01 May 2014 08:36

Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization
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