by Prof Leon van Vuuren | Published on 3 December 2018 for The Ethics Institute monthly newsletter
When TEI subject matter experts present on conflicts of interest during training workshops, the response from trainees is usually something along the lines of “the interest should be declared, and then it is fine”. The word ‘disclosed’ is also often used. Seldom do we hear the response that transparently declaring an identified conflict, without taking any further action, is not sufficient. Many people (and this applies even when we are working with members of a governing body or senior leadership team) hold the view that the fact that the conflict has been declared makes it totally acceptable to carry on with business as usual, despite the continued existence of the conflict. According to this approach, acknowledging conflicts makes them go away.