By law, the U.S. can withhold 15 percent of its contributions to international organizations, including those under the United Nations’ banner, unless the secretary of State deems they’re enforcing policies that uphold “best practices” to protect whistleblowers.
But for far too long, Turtle Bay has skated on its treatment of staffers who step up to report wrongdoing, says U.N. watchdog Brett Schaefer of The Heritage Foundation. And although newly installed Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has issued changes to the world body’s whistleblower-protection policies, old habits die hard at the U.N.
Mr. Schaefer recalls a case in 2015 of a senior official with the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, who reported on alleged sexual abuse by peacekeepers in the Central African Republic. For that, Anders Kompass was pilloried and pressured to resign before an independent panel exonerated him. Having endured enough of this U.N. treatment, however, Mr. Kompass resigned anyway.
Nevertheless, former Secretary of State John Kerry gave U.N. agencies a clean bill of health with regard to the whistleblower standard except for the World Intellectual Property Organization, according to Schaefer.
So, if the U.S. isn’t serious about enforcing its own whistleblower-protection standard, why should the U.N. bother to do so?
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson needs to restore U.S. credibility by enforcing, to the letter of the law, America’s whistleblower standard at the U.N.
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