August 31, 2016

Question of the Week: Should the UN create a stronger whistleblower program?

By the C|C Whistleblower Lawyer Team

The UN recently rocked the global community by admitting that its peacekeepers caused the deadly cholera outbreak in Haiti.  UN peacekeepers arrived after the 2010 Haiti earthquake to help rebuild the country.  Unfortunately, peacekeepers from Nepal apparently brought cholera along with their good intentions.  The UN then failed to set up a safe sanitation system for its waste, compounding the problem.  This admission comes after years of official denials, despite strong evidence from internal and external sources of UN culpability.

Unsurprisingly, the UN’s apparent willingness to evade responsibility for a humanitarian crisis has sparked loud calls for institutional reform and oversight.  Amidst these calls is a suggestion by the New York Times editorial board that the UN should strengthen its whistleblower program.  Although the Times does not go into detail on what a stronger whistleblower program would look like, such a program could encourage individuals to come forward with evidence of wrongdoing by protecting these individuals from retaliation.  The UN could further incentivize reports by creating an award structure to compensate whistleblowers for the risks and efforts they take on.

The UN’s current protections for whistleblowers are lacking to say the least.  According to Anders Kompass, the whistleblower who unearthed the child sex abuse scandal among peacekeepers in West Africa, retaliation is currently commonplace.  UN employees also feel disinclined to report abuses, as they fear the UN will just bury such reports.  A stronger whistleblower program would presumably be intended to fix such problems.

What do you think? Should the UN create a stronger whistleblower program? Vote and tell us what you think below.

Should the UN create a stronger whistleblower program?

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