UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday said members of staff of the organisation were not banned from protesting against racism or injustice in private capacity.
In a letter to UN staff, Guterres said employees were free to engage in “personal expressions of solidarity or acts of peaceful civic engagement”.
He however added the caveat that such acts must be “carried out in an entirely private capacity” and not on behalf of the organisation.
The clarification followed a recent guidance issued by the UN Ethics Office that warned staff and officials against demonstrations.
Guterres said: “I also want to be clear about the recent guidance issued by the Ethics Office and relevant departments.
“It does not in any way indicate that staff are to remain neutral or impartial in the face of racism.
“To the contrary, there is no ban on personal expressions of solidarity or acts of peaceful civic engagement, provided they are carried out in an entirely private capacity.
“Rather, the guidance was meant to emphasise the need to balance such activities with one’s best judgment as international civil servants and our official duties.”
There have been massive protests against racism and police brutality across the United States following the death of an African American, George Floyd, in police custody in Minneapolis.
The protests have spread to other cities around the world against what the UN Chief described as the “plague of racism, prompted by a murderous act of police brutality”.
Guterres said: “The position of the United Nations on racism is crystal clear: This scourge violates the United Nations Charter and debases our core values.
“Every day, in our work across the world, we strive to do our part to promote inclusion, justice, dignity and combat racism in all its manifestations.”