U.S. Department of State

Code of Conduct

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Overseas Security Advisory Council
Bureau of Diplomatic Security
U.S. Department of State

OSAC Code of Conduct


The U.S. Department of State is committed to ensuring participants of all OSAC events and activities are treated with dignity and respect. Any form of discrimination, sexual harassment, or other unprofessional conduct is not tolerated and may result in revocation of invitation to participate. The OSAC Code of Conduct was created to ensure a positive experience for all participants regardless of: race; color; sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity); national origin; religion; disability; age; or other protected status and compliance is required of all OSAC event and activity participants.  


OSAC has established this Code of Conduct (the “Code”) to serve as a guideline for the professional conduct of anyone attending or participating in an official OSAC event, activity, or communications platform, as well as to inform members of the consequences of unacceptable behavior. It is the expectation of the Department of State and the OSAC Council that every participant will respect and abide by this Code of Conduct. We all have a responsibility to ensure our events and individual actions are professional, inclusive, and respectful. Failure to abide by this Code is subject to corrective action, as set forth below. For the purposes of this Code of Conduct, the work, “activities,” refers to events sponsored by OSAC that are not meetings (see the Federal Advisory Committee Act).


This Code of Conduct applies to all representatives of OSAC participating organizations, attendees, media representatives, speakers, volunteers, staff, contractors, exhibitors, and any other guests (collectively referred to as “Participants”) at any official OSAC programs, conferences, consultations, webinars, snap calls, networking events, or other activities held, sponsored, or affiliated with OSAC (collectively referred to as “Events,”), including those hosted by other organizations in partnership with OSAC. It also includes all users participating in or messages originating on OSAC-managed digital communications platforms, to include email, messaging apps, and social media (“Platforms”).

OSAC participants are required to review the OSAC Code of Conduct and must agree to adhere to it prior to attending specific events. OSAC participants are expected to fully comply with the OSAC Code of Conduct and submit to its standards, fully cooperate with its complaint evaluation processes, and respect outcomes as a condition of their participation. If you have questions about OSAC’s Code of Conduct, please contact OSAC at OSACConduct@state.gov.

This Code is subject to change, and OSAC will notify participants through an OSAC website announcement if and when revisions take place. At a minimum, OSAC’s Operations and Excellence Subcommittee will review the Code annually, or as needed.

Expected Behavior

OSAC expects that participants will:

  • Understand that OSAC is a place of business, where appropriate rules of conduct apply;
  • Recognize that an event or electronic communications platform is a forum for diversity of thought, where differing views may be discussed constructively with due regard for the viewpoints of others;
  • Be considerate, respectful, inclusive, and collaborative in communication and actions;
  • Respect and obey the specific rules or policies of the venue, event, or communications platform; and
  • Cooperate and work together with OSAC to ensure that it continues to be a safe, welcoming, and inclusive environment.

In the spirit of valuing a diversity of views, ideas, and opinions, remember that a recipient may perceive a comment or action as disrespectful.

All participants are expected to adhere to the Chatham House Rule at all OSAC events and on all OSAC-managed communications platforms. The Chatham House Rule states, “When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.” The Chatham House Rule applies to the extent permitted under applicable law.

Unacceptable Behavior

OSAC defines unacceptable behavior as, but not limited to:

  • Unwelcome verbal or physical conduct that constitutes any form of harassment, discrimination, or disrespectful behavior;
  • Inappropriate language, unwelcome physical contact, or unwanted advances, in person or virtual;
  • Display of nudity and/or sexual images or content of an inappropriate sexual nature at events, including presentations, or on personal devices, that could be seen by others;
  • Intimidating, threatening, abusive, derogatory, or demeaning conduct or commentary;
  • Physical stalking or written, verbal, or other abuse, including bullying of any type occurring in person or via any other form of communications, including cyberbullying;
  • Failing to respect and adhere to the rules or policies of the venue, event, or communications platform; and
  • Knowingly filing a false complaint.

Participants in OSAC events are prohibited from:

  • Conducting sales, marketing, or business development activity at any OSAC or OSAC-affiliated activity, or accessing OSAC user information gleaned from OSAC electronic platforms for other than OSAC-sanctioned purposes;
  • Incorporating, repurposing, selling, or utilizing any OSAC-developed or provided information, data, or communications for other than OSAC-sanctioned purposes; and
  • Utilizing their relationships with or participation in OSAC in any sales, marketing, or business development activity.

Reporting Concerns

Any participant who has experienced unacceptable behavior as defined above, or has witnessed unacceptable behavior, or has additional concerns about conduct or activities associated with OSAC, should inform OSAC as soon as possible.

Participants should report concerns to OSACConduct@state.gov, which is monitored exclusively by OSAC’s Executive Director, Deputy Executive Director, and Team Lead for Programs, Partnerships, & Policy. It is helpful to provide as much information as possible to ensure a thorough evaluation of any incident. The following information should be included in the report:

  • Name, organization, and contact information of the reporter
  • Name and organization (if known) of the person exhibiting the unacceptable behavior
  • Date of incident and frequency of behavior
  • Location of incident (online platform; venue/city; name of event or activity, if applicable)
  • A brief description of the incident; please indicate if it was targeted at a specific individual/individuals
  • Names of witnesses or other individuals involved, if any
  • Screenshots or communications that illustrate the behavior, if applicable

All reports will be handled expediently and confidentially, to the extent permitted by law and U.S. Department of State policy. The Privacy Act of 1974 applies to the Department of State and the information it may receive from individuals, as does the Freedom of Information Act.

Submissions will be monitored during normal business hours (8:30 am - 5:00 pm ET, Monday - Friday). Participants should contact 911 immediately if they have experienced or witnessed behavior or suspicious activity during an OSAC event in the United States that may constitute a crime or serious threat to the public.

If outside the United States, participants should report immediate concerns to law enforcement or to the senior OSAC representative present at the event or activity, who will coordinate any follow-up action with the Regional Security Officer.

Consequences of Unacceptable Behavior

OSAC will not tolerate unacceptable behavior. Any participant asked to stop behaving in an unacceptable manner, as outlined by this Code of Conduct, is expected to comply immediately when requested by another participant or Department official, or if applicable, a law enforcement officer.

At any OSAC event, joint event, or on any communications platform, OSAC may take any action deemed necessary and appropriate up to and including removal of the participant for any behavior inconsistent with the Code of Conduct described above by OSAC officials, at their discretion. OSAC must report any criminal acts to the appropriate authorities for investigation by the entity with jurisdiction.

OSAC will be the body that reviews and evaluates all complaints internally (defined here as the OSAC Executive Director and Deputy Executive Director, and any USG employee designates, as circumstance dictates). OSAC will ensure due diligence is followed in all reported cases, according to the guidance of the U.S. Department of State and the Diplomatic Security Service.

If the evaluation of the circumstances results in a substantiated finding, the offender may be subject to corrective actions up to and including expulsion from events and/or communications platforms. Depending on the severity of the unacceptable behavior, further consequences may include a temporary or permanent termination of access to OSAC membership groups and/or denial to participate in future OSAC events or programs. OSAC decisions are considered final. OSAC also reserves the right to request that a participating organization replace any individual representative who has been found to have violated the OSAC Code of Conduct.

For privacy reasons, OSAC will not make any statements about Code of Conduct violations, except where required by law. OSAC also will not share details of reported violations, evaluations, findings, or deliberative processes, nor will it share with the reporting party the resulting corrective actions with respect to any individuals involved.

Posted January 25, 2021



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