The German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) is Germany’s oldest and most prominent network for foreign policy. As an independent, non-partisan, and non-profit membership organization, think tank, and publisher, DGAP has advanced foreign policy since 1955. In doing so, DGAP conducts quality research for which it relies on the support and sponsorship of its members and donors, which include representatives of governments and the private sector, as well as charitable foundations and private citizens. To uphold DGAP’s ethical values and scientific research standards, this document sets forward a code of conduct, which lays out the rules of engagement and guidelines of DGAP and its employees.
In line with its statute and tradition, DGAP stands for the values of democracy, Germany’s constitution and the Freiheitliche Demokratische Grundordnung (the “liberal democratic basic order”), open societies, anti-discrimination, and multilateralism. DGAP’s employees, management, board, and academic advisory committee commit themselves in their work and as individuals to these values. When they apply for membership in the organization, members commit themselves to these same norms. These values are followed and will be actively upheld in every activity DGAP pursues. Any institution or individual who neglects, disrespects, or compromises these values can be excluded from any research project, event, or other DGAP activity.
2. Independence and Non-partisanship
DGAP pursues independent scientific research and provides independent advice and non-partisan information. DGAP research, events, publications, and outreach take place independently from any political parties or views, from the views of its partners and sponsors, and from any further external influence.
In compliance with this principle, DGAP and its employees commit themselves to actively avoiding any conflict of interest and external influence. Employees refrain from letting their own or any partner’s or sponsor’s national, political, or otherwise inspired affiliation influence their work at DGAP. Also, employees commit themselves to not engage in outside activities, which might infringe upon or conflict or compete with DGAP’s mission. Employees are obliged to inform management about any third/external affiliation and/or assignment that might infringe the professional integrity of DGAP.
Any published research or public statement by an employee, therefore, only reflects the views of that respective employee. DGAP’s management, board, and/or academic advisory committee commit themselves to not impose any views or bias on DGAP employees or their work.
DGAP champions the importance of providing the space for different perspectives within the public debate so that various arguments and controversies can be addressed in order to facilitate open discussion informed by evidence. It is, therefore, committed to open dialogue and the inclusion of different stakeholders and their views.
In its analyses, its employment practice, and its policy of stakeholder engagement, DGAP shall not discriminate on the grounds of gender or sexual orientation or racial, religious, or socio-economic background.
4. Ethics Committee
DGAP has established an ethics committee composed of the DGAP’s general counsel (chair), chief operating officer, and head of its workers’ council.
DGAP employees and members as well as external stakeholders can address the ethics committee in case they have evidence of a potential infringement of the values and standards set forth in this document. The ethics committee will investigate these allegations and resolve the further action that needs to be taken, if any. On a case-by-case basis, the ethics committee can call upon additional experts to assess the validity of the accusations.
If the ethics committee concludes that a DGAP employee has engaged in wrongdoing, the case is then forwarded to DGAP’s management board and its workers council for further action.
If the ethics committee calls into question a sponsorship relationship with an external party (see No. 6 below), the matter is forwarded to DGAP’s board for consideration and decision-making.
5. Good Scientific Practice and Research Integrity
DGAP and its employees commit themselves to the principles and standards of good scientific practice and to promoting the principles of integrity in research:
- Documenting and disseminating results with honesty and openness
- Conducting evidence-based research reliably and soundly
- Questioning one’s own findings critically
- Exercising due diligence
- Providing references and sources in a manner that is traceable and comprehensive
- Supporting the next generation of academics and researchers
Following these principles ensures that the analyses and recommendations provided by DGAP’s researchers are non-partisan, unbiased, and without pre-conceived conclusions.
If misconduct is suspected, DGAP employees and members as well as external stakeholders can report their suspicions to DGAP’s director or ethics committee, which will investigate the allegations.
Sponsorships or donations shall in no way influence the independence or integrity of the research, events, advice, or outreach of DGAP and its employees. DGAP retains full control over the content and execution of its activities regardless of the source of funding. This entails that DGAP decides freely whether to publish or not publish any research project’s output. By supporting DGAP’s work (financially or non-financially), partners agree that they can neither influence any step of the research, nor its results or publication. No sponsor can use DGAP’s events and discussions as a platform to present its views without reflection or counterargument. Also, receiving support (financial or non-financial) does not imply any association with and/or ratification of the past, current, and future activities of the source of the respective sponsorship. In order to substantiate these principles, employees are obliged to report any attempt to influence the outcomes and/or dissemination of their research to the director or the ethics committee.
DGAP will scrutinize support (financial or non-financial) from governments, companies, institutions, or individuals along its ethical guidelines to determine whether it neglects, disrespects, or compromises the procedures and values outlined above.
The ethics committee will review all sponsorship opportunities and offers if the following applies:
- The amount contributed by one sponsor exceeds 10 percent of DGAP’s total funding or 30 percent of the funding of one of DGAP’s programs
- Any doubts are raised by DGAP employees, management, members, or external stakeholders that a sponsor might neglect, disrespect, or compromise the values outlined above
In the event that the ethics committee concludes that a sponsorship opportunity or offer should be rejected, it will consult with DGAP’s board, which will make a final decision.
Each DGAP employee takes ownership of the responsibility to uphold these ethical guidelines. DGAP urges those working at the management level to encourage these (ethical) guidelines by example. In case of any question or report of misconduct/misbehavior, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. The chair of the ethics committee will check this email on a regular basis and is mandated to exercise due diligence on all reported cases.
 See, for example, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft: Safeguarding Good Scientific Practice, Bonn 2013, https://www.dfg.de/download/pdf/dfg_im_profil/reden_stellungnahmen/download/empfehlung_wiss_praxis_1310.pdf (accessed February 2020).