Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

UN Whistleblowers Face Repercussions for Speaking Out

UN whistleblowers, who speak out about injustices occurring in the organization or under its auspices, too often face repercussions for taking a stand against their employer. Because of the UN’s vast legal immunities, staff must file complaints through a lengthy, expensive, and often biased internal process. This structure for UN staff members follows the similar appeals mechanism for the Haitian cholera victims and sexual assault survivors seeking redress from the UN. Despite the UN’s stated commitments to human rights and justice, whistleblowers and victims often refrain from speaking out for fear of backlash, as highlighted in the following article.

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How The UN Fails Whistleblowers – OpEd

David Kaye, eurasiareview

June 25, 2015

This is a letter from the UN Whistleblower Coalition to the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, David Kaye, who will be presenting a report on protection of sources and whistleblowers to the UN General Assembly in October.

Over the past decade the United Nations and its specialized agencies have established new whistleblower policies. Unfortunately, implementation is weak in many of the UN agencies and the policies themselves may lag behind best practice standards. In practice, it is our experience that the policies afford little meaningful protection for whistleblowers.

As the case summaries below demonstrate, retaliation against whistleblowers can affect the entire UN system. Some UN whistleblowers have been fired or demoted; others have been subjected to more subtle forms of abuse like non-renewal of contracts or sudden transfer to distant duty stations; many face plain, simple harassment and intimidation. UN whistleblowers may also have their visas revoked or be required to flee the country where they are living and working as a result of the retaliation. Consequently, we can assert that fear of reporting wrongdoing is common.

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