Promoting Higher Education integrity: Montenegro adopts its Ethics Charter

Having been one of the first countries in Europe to enact a law on academic integrity, Montenegro has now adopted an Ethics Charter to further protect and promote academic integrity in higher education. This initiative, supported by the Council of Europe, benefited from IIEP-UNESCO’s technical expertise.

The Charter was developed by an Ethics Committee consisting of seven prominent experts from different academic disciplines, and appointed by the Government of Montenegro. The aim of the Committee is to: promote principles of academic integrity; provide guidance on violations of academic integrity; and give its opinion on regulations and initiatives related to academic integrity issues.

Ethical principles and guidelines for professional conduct

The newly adopted Charter aims “to preserve, improve, protect, and promote academic integrity and prevent all forms of violations of academic integrity”. It defines four key ethical principles that should guide all Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in Montenegro, as well as the academic community at large:

  1. the quest for truth in pursuit of knowledge;
  2. freedom of teaching and research;
  3. commitment and responsibility towards the academic community, society, and the environment;
  4. respect for the individual, and fair treatment of all members of the academic community.

The adoption of an Ethics Charter is a key moment for an academic community: by setting common values, and specifying common courses of action to reduce malpractices, it provides a strong basis for integrity to develop (J. Hallak & M. Poisson)

The Charter defines academic honesty as “independence and personal integrity in scientific, educational and professional work, as well as respect for other people's work and achievement”. Such integrity prohibits any form of data falsification and plagiarism and calls upon members of the academic community to strengthen moral condemnation and accountability (in addition to the existing legal accountability) when it comes to plagiarism and other forms of violation of academic integrity. 

Access the full text of the Charter here

Successful partnership between the Council of Europe and IIEP-UNESCO

The drafting process was supported by the Council of Europe, with technical expertise provided by IIEP-UNESCO. The successful partnership between these two international institutions follows the joint organisation of a Study Visit held in Geneva in March 2018, during which a delegation from Montenegro was able to learn how Switzerland has approached the challenge of ensuring integrity in Higher Education.

IIEP-UNESCO drew on its long-standing experience in the area of ethics in education and the development of codes of conduct, to facilitate a workshop to guide Committee members in the selection of relevant domains of integrity, agree on suitable investigation methods for detecting cases of dishonesty, and develop a work plan for the development of the Charter. The Institute also provided detailed comments on draft versions of the Charter.

Enforcement of the Charter

After its official adoption on May 2021, the Charter is now binding for all HEIs and members of the academic community in Montenegro. In compliance with the Law on integrity, both public and private HEIs need to establish ethical boards, which will play a key role in its enforcement.

For more information about ethical issues in Higher Education in Montenegro, see the Ethics Committee’s website.