Giving Compass’ Take:
• Devex reports on how whistleblowers within the United Nations have helped expose abuses of power, sexual exploitation and fraud, but that protections for those people who came forward have been too weak.
• What can we do to protect those who report wrongdoings within an organization? First, learn where the UN has failed in this regard, despite the mechanisms that were in place: Improve the application of policies.
When two United Nations officials took the tough decision to report what they saw as clear wrongdoing within their agencies, neither thought their actions would leave them feeling ostracized and blacklisted, and in one case, unemployed.
The role of whistleblowers in holding their organizations to account has come to the forefront of the aid sector’s attention in recent months following a string of sexual misconduct scandals, many of which were brought to light thanks to staff members speaking out.
Since February, whistleblowers have played a key role in exposing major safeguarding issues, including Oxfam’s handling of sexual exploitation in Haiti in 2011; alleged sexual harassment of female staff at Save the Children’s United Kingdom headquarters in 2012 and 2015; and several incidents within the United Nations.
Stories of whistleblowers lifting the lid on sexual exploitation, abuse of power, fraud or corruption within aid agencies are not new, however. The U.N. in particular has been involved in a number of high-profile cases in recent years, including disclosures made by two staff members — Emma Reilly and Miranda Brown — about alleged problems within the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.
A report by the U.N. Joint Inspection Unit in 2016 found that “whistleblowers alone account for the uncovering of more fraud and corruption [within the U.N. system] than all other measures of fraud detection combined,” and recommended stronger measures be put in place to protect them.
Read the full article about the high price of being a UN whistleblower by Sophie Edwards at Devex International Development.
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