IPSA's Anti-Harassment Policy: Code of Conduct for IPSA Meetings and Congresses

IPSA's Anti-Harassment Policy: Code of Conduct for IPSA Meetings and Congresses

Posted by: Mr. Haluk Dag

Publication date: Tue, 08 May 2018


With the 2018 IPSA World Congress of Political Science fast approaching, the IPSA Executive Committee has adopted at the IPSA EC Meeting No.126 held in April 14-15 in Lisbon (Portugal) a code of conduct to combat all forms of harassment.

The purpose of this document is to provide an authoritative statement of the expectations for conduct for all who participate in IPSA meetings and congresses. The code of conduct is a natural outcome of IPSA’s commitment to maintaining and promoting a professional environment at its meetings and other organized activities, and it is guided by the conviction that the advancement of knowledge flourishes most readily in an atmosphere of constructive debate in which all members treat each another with dignity and respect.

The establishment of this code of conduct was inspired by the leadership of the American Political Science Association (APSA) which adopted a similar code of conduct for its annual meeting and encouraged other political science associations to follow its lead.

Anti-Harassment Policy: Code of Conduct for IPSA Meetings and Congresses

View the Anti-harassment Policy: Code of Conduct (PDF)

The International Political Science Association (IPSA) brings together professionals from a variety of backgrounds and from a large number of locations around the globe. This diversity brings with it the potential for fruitful dialogue about research and policy, but also the possibility of disagreements among members. This code of conduct is designed to ensure that all are treated with dignity and respect; and that sensitivity and consideration guide our interactions while, at the same time, not limiting the substance or arena of our debate.

  1. This code of conduct refers to relations between IPSA members, IPSA Headquarters staff, and other participants, and to their interactions in the course of IPSA activities.
    1. IPSA activities include IPSA’s governing bodies (Executive Committee, Council), world congresses, regional and committee meetings and workshops, and editing of IPSA’s journals.
    2. Some matters of professional ethics are under the purview of specific committees and are addressed elsewhere: for instance, plagiarism and academic freedom.
  2. IPSA office holders, from the President and Secretary General to members of the Executive Committee (EC) and editors of IPSA journals, have a special responsibility to uphold and observe this code of conduct, promoting in the Association’s activities a professional environment characterized by constructive debate and the treatment of all members and participants with dignity and respect.
  3. IPSA recognizes that there is a distinction between victimization through harassment and legitimate, justifiable, and appropriate constructive criticism. Nothing in this document should be construed as a limitation on the ability of members and participants to constructively evaluate and critique one another’s work.>
  4. Nonetheless, IPSA recognizes its duty to ensure that members and participants are not harassed. It further recognizes that this duty is of wider application and includes all members and participants, regardless of status or the period of time.
    1. Harassment can be defined as unwanted conduct (actions or comments) related to age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, disability, religion, nationality, citizenship or any personal characteristic of the individual, which has the purpose (intentional) or effect (unintentional) of violating a person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that person.
    2. Harassment may include, but is not limited to:
      1. Offensive, insulting, intimidating, or malicious behavior targeted at another person or persons;
      2. Abuse or misuse of power intended to undermine, humiliate, denigrate, or injure the person or persons toward whom such behavior is targeted;
      3. Actions or comments - persistent or isolated - affecting the dignity of people or individuals. The key is that the actions or comments can be experienced as demeaning and unacceptable.
      4. Sexual harassment or intimidation.
  5. IPSA recognizes that members and participants who feel that they have been victims of harassment as defined in this code of conduct are entitled to pursue their case in a welcoming and non- threatening environment.
  6. IPSA is committed to ensuring that complaints brought under this procedure shall not lead to the victimization or harassment of any individual.
    1. The procedures for addressing grievances (detailed below) aim to resolve complaints in an informal way, whenever possible. At the same time, IPSA recognizes that punitive measures may be required to address some violations.
    2. IPSA also is committed to ensuring that those who lodge complaints under this code are not subject to retaliation by respondents or third parties.
  7. IPSA ensures that procedures are in place to address complaints of harassment. Such procedures provide for
    1. Timely handling of such complaints;
    2. Fair and impartial handling of such complaints; and
    3. Fair, impartial, and sensitive treatment of all parties affected by such complaints.
  8. Congress and event participants should report – directly or through another IPSA office holder - a violation of the code of conduct to the IPSA Delegate for Anti-Harassment Policy (from here on: the Delegate). The Delegate is appointed by the EC at its pre-World Congress meeting to serve until the next pre-World Congress meeting.
  9. In cases where the reported behavior is ongoing, or where there is a question of immediate physical harm or danger, steps will be taken by IPSA officials to ensure the safety of participants, regardless of whether a formal complaint is pursued or not.
  10. Participants have two options through which to pursue a complaint:
    1. If the participant does not wish to enter into a formal investigation process, then IPSA can issue a notice. In these cases, the IPSA Delegate will contact the person who is the subject of the complaint, inform them that a complaint has been made, and remind them of IPSA’s Anti-Harassment Policy. The recipient of the notice will have the opportunity to respond to IPSA in writing, but no further formal investigation will be undertaken.
    2. The formal investigation process will be handled in confidence, and the identity of the complainer will not be revealed to the respondent, except with the permission of the complainant. To proceed with the formal investigation process, the complaint must be made in writing and must include:
      1. The name of the complainant;
      2. The name of the respondent;
      3. The nature of the conduct about which a complaint is being made, including, where possible, dates, times and locations;
      4. If appropriate, names of any participants who may have witnessed the conduct.
  11. An investigation will be conducted by the Delegate in every case where a formal complaint is made.
    1. The Delegate will ask the respondent to provide a written statement in response to the complaint. The Delegate may also contact identified witnesses or consult with others with direct knowledge of the incident in question. All evidence should be given in writing (including email).
  12. At the end of the formal investigation, the Delegate will propose a resolution for the matter. Resolution may include:
    1. Determination that IPSA’s policy has not been violated and that the complaint will be dismissed;
    2. Recommendation for informal resolution of the matter in order to re-establish a a professional relationship between the parties, including options such as mediation;
    3. Termination of IPSA congress or event participation for the respondent, including current and/or future IPSA congress and events;
    4. A temporary or permanent restriction on the respondent regarding accession to leadership positions in IPSA, including the Executive Committee;
    5. A temporary or permanent suspension of the respondent’s IPSA membership.
  13. The final decision regarding such proposals will be made by the EC, and the resolution of the matter will be notified to all parties in writing.
  14. In any proceedings, IPSA will make every effort to protect complainants from retaliation. The information given by all parties and their identities will be treated with strict confidentiality. If anonymity becomes difficult to maintain in particular cases, IPSA will defer to the preferences of the complainant.
  15. This code of conduct and its procedures for resolving grievances are not intended to, and are not a substitute for, the rights of any of the parties to seek legal redress. Any legal action on the part of the complainant will be exclusively a matter between the complainant, the respondent and the authorities in the location where the incident occurred. IPSA will not be a party to such legal action, nor will it accept any legal liability or financial responsibility for such action.