Professional Ethics


ISI Declaration on Professional Ethics


The ISI Declaration on Professional Ethics was approved by the ISI Council in July 2010. The Declaration was formally presented on World Statistics Day on 20 October 2010.  The 2010 Declaration succeeded the first ISI Declaration on Professional Ethics from 1985.

The  Declaration on Professional Ethics consists of a statement of Shared Professional Values and a set of Ethical Principles that derive from these values.

The aim of the Declaration is to enable the statistician's individual ethical judgments and decisions to be informed by shared values and experience, rather than by rigid rules imposed by the profession. The Declaration seeks to document widely held principles of the statistical profession and to identify the factors that obstruct their implementation. It offers a framework within which the conscientious statistician should be able to work comfortably.


The ISI Declaration on Professional Ethics is available in several languages.


ISI’s Involvement in Professional Ethics


The ISI is a Non-Government Organization (NGO) which allows it to take actions which may be politically difficult for other organisations. The ISI Declaration on Professional Ethics will be used as a framework for raising any concerns with regard to breaches of the professional ethics in statistics.


The Advisory Board on Ethics


In connection with the issue of the 2010 ISI Declaration, the ISI Executive Committee (EC) decided to establish the ISI Advisory Board on Ethics (ABE).

The ABE is established to advise the EC and Council on relevant ethical issues and to recommend or undertake activities for promoting observance of ethical principles in statistics. The work of the Board is based on the ISI Declaration on Professional Ethics and guided by the relevant objectives of the ISI and its mission. The objectives, which seem particularly relevant in this respect, are as follows:

  • To promote and disseminate research and best practices in the statistical sciences
  • To establish an appropriate role for the ISI in promoting public awareness of good statistical practice and its value to the community, and in supporting good practice
  • To enhance the ISI’s support for the statistical community in developing countries


The full Terms of Reference for the ABE can viewed here.


Background information on the ABE and its members can be found here


Role of the EC and Council Concerning Ethical Issues


Policies and strategies concerning the Declaration on Professional Ethics are discussed and decided by the ISI Executive Committee and Council. Decisions on actions concerning ethical issues are taken by the EC, mainly following advice from the Advisory Board on Ethics (ABE). In order to strengthen the observance of the EC of ethical issues and facilitate the dialogue with the ABE and external partners in this field, the EC has created a specific “Portfolio on Professional Ethics” to be assumed by one of the ISI Vice Presidents. The incumbent EC has entrusted that portfolio to VP Hallgrímur Snorrason. Furthermore, the EC has designated one Council Member to hold a similar portfolio and cooperate with the VP responsible for the EC ethics portfolio. The Council Member holding this portfolio 2011-2013 is Lawrence Cox. 


The ISI Strategy on Professional Ethics


Following recommendations by the ABE and discussions in Council the EC approved the following strategy for ISI actions on Professional Ethics. The most appropriate strategies would be taken depending on the circumstances.

  1. The ISI could write letters of support to the statisticians that have been affected. This can be reassuring during what must be a difficult time for them.
  2. We can write to the authorities in the country expressing our concern. This is unlikely to have much direct influence but might provide a useful source for quotation. On the other hand, it can result in some quite aggressive responses.
  3. We can approach the relevant international agency urging their involvement. They are likely to have more influence than the ISI.
  4. We can ensure that media are aware of the situation. This may put some pressure on governments. If market sensitive statistics are affected, this may result in market reactions that may be to the disadvantage of the countries concerned. Countries may be less likely to dismiss statisticians in such circumstances if they think there is a price to pay.
  5. We can publish statements on the ISI website which would then be available for quoting by the media and others.
  6. We can work with other professional associations to provide a collective response. The impact of that could be far greater than acting alone.  For example, in the Argentinean case the ISI did work with the ASA in crafting a response


ISI Statements and Letters Concerning Statistical Ethics


Based on the aforementioned strategy and advised by the ABE the EC decided to undertake action in specific cases. An overview of the ISI letters, statements and discussion papers is given below:



  • Open Letter from ISI on matters related to judicial proceedings in Greece
    The ISI has published an open letter regarding the judicial proceedings in Greece against Mr Andreas Georgiou, the President of ELSTAT, and comments from two former ELSTAT members about the  organization of an Open Meeting entitled ‘Intrusion of the judiciary in the course of the production of official statistics’ during the World Statistics Congress in Hong Kong. More>>
    Dated 16th September 2013

  • The ISI issued a Statement to express its profound disappointment and serious concern over the prosecution of Mr Andreas Georgiou, President of the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) and two of his ELSTAT Managers.
    Supporters are invited to endorse the statement by subscribing here. The names will be published on the website.
    Dated 28th February 2013
  • Letter by the ISI President to the President of the Hellenic Statistical Authority, Mr. Andreas Georgiou, in support of his endeavour to comply with the high international standards for producing good quality and impartial statistical information about the Greek economy and society.
    Dated 5th January 2012






Reviews, Other Documents






Several International organisations and professional associations have issued codes of ethics/ good practices and the UN Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics are key in the operations of official statistical offices and organizations. Here follows a list of links to several of these codes and principles:





ISI Declaration on Professional Ethics - Adopted in 1985


Background information on the ABE and its members can be found here