Last updated 04/05/2021
AN INDEPENDENT REFLECTION TO FOSTER STRONGER ETHICS AND DEONTOLOGY
After two months of work, the working group on deontology set up on 17 February 2021 and chaired by Catherine de Salins has delivered its conclusions in a report submitted to Bénédicte Durand on 4 May 2021 (fr, pdf, 1 MB).
In all, more than 80 people - students, researchers, Sciences Po teachers, and people external to the institution, in France and abroad - were interviewed. Over a two-month period, the members of the working group conducted an independent review to take detailed stock of the current situation and make rapidly operational recommendations to strengthen the institution’s ethical practices.
The conclusions of the working group will be studied by the new presidency of the Fondation nationale des sciences politiques (due to be elected on 10 May 2021), which will be responsible for implementing them with the Sciences Po Direction.
> Read the full report (fr, pdf, 1 MB)
Ethics and deontology: a shared requirement
Ethics, covering all the rules governing a professional activity, constitute a strategic requirement that must be shared at all levels of the institution, via the appropriate channels, and which, over time, must be adapted to meet evolving challenges and new risks that may arise.
The conclusions of the working group show that:
- Sciences Po can draw on established practices and a community sensitive to ethical issues;
- Ethical conduct is a strategic issue which requires leadership by example: the working group recommends that this be a key element in the recruitment of the person who will assume the role of President of the IEP and that a system of checking for conflicts of interest be put in place for members of Sciences Po's decision-making bodies;
- Ethical conduct is a requirement to be shared: it is not only a matter for governance, it is a matter for everyone at Sciences Po. The working group proposes to involve all members of the Sciences Po community: students will be invited to participate in the development and implementation of the code of ethics that will henceforth apply to all. It also proposes that warning and reporting mechanisms be established;
- The process is dynamic: ethical requirements evolve over time, the risks shift and will necessitate new ways of responding. This exercise must therefore be regularly revisited in order to ensure that it remains adapted to its environment.
- Finally, the issue of compliance: the group proposes that processes be established in the most sensitive areas and stresses the importance of punishing breaches in the code of ethics.
Read the table of the full recommendations of the working group (fr, pdf, 400 KB).
- Make the reference framework more visible and accessible and group together on a single dedicated page of the website all the documents relating to ethics, by clearly articulating the various documents setting out ethical and deontological principles (recommendations 15 and 21);
- Clarify: through clear, didactic sheets explaining, with concrete examples, the situations covered by these principles; establish as many sheets as there are categories of actors (Recommendation 17);
- Communicate on this reference framework to make it known and present it as one of the main lines of Sciences Po’s strategy (recommendation n°21);
- Introduce the ethical and deontology requirement in the recruitment and evaluation criteria (recommendations 7 and 22);
In short, every member of the Sciences Po community must know the principles that apply to him or her, understand the behaviour that is expected of him or her and know that he or she will be evaluated on the basis of their respect.
All those who work at Sciences Po must be made aware of these principles and commit to respecting them. The working group therefore makes recommendations concerning recruitment contracts and letters of commitment.
Offer training "in the form of real-life scenarios" to teaching and administrative staff in contact with students on how to manage interpersonal relations with them, and more broadly to all members of the Sciences Po community (recommendations 1 and 23).
Facilitate consulting and advice
Members of the Sciences Po communities must be able to seek advice from referents who are known, identified and accessible individuals. These referents must be members of the joint ethics committee of the IEP and the FNSP, so that it can assume the functions of "ethics referent", "whistleblower referent", "secularity referent" and, in general, of reporting difficulties arising in terms of ethics within Sciences Po, excluding sexual and gender-based violence, discrimination and harassment (recommendation 25).
Set up an alert and reporting system
This mechanism, which is distinct from the one already in place for sexual and gender-based violence, must be visible and clearly explain its role and the conditions for referring cases to it, as well as the procedures for dealing with them, in the forms that will appear on the dedicated page of the website (recommendation 25).
The procedures and scales of sanctions exist. They must be known; they must be effective, which may require a prior investigation before referring the matter to the competent disciplinary body (Recommendation 28); and of course they must be applied.
In the end, the working group tried to recommend measures that are as concrete, pragmatic and adapted to Sciences Po as possible. Some of these measures will require the amendment of texts, in particular the decrees on the statutes of the FNSP and the IEP, but a large number of measures can be implemented very quickly. The group is aware that several of these recommendations require the mobilisation of personnel and resources and have a cost. It is confident that, if the authorities soon to be elected and appointed to run Sciences Po take a sustained interest in this subject as proposed by the working group, Sciences Po can become a driving force in this area.