Whistleblowers Urge UN To Strengthen Protection For Those Revealing Abuses

from the echoes-of-Snowden dept

Aside from the extraordinary information that he revealed about massive yet unsuspected surveillance programs, Edward Snowden has produced several other collateral benefits through his actions in 2013. For example, recently we learned that the DEA's phone tracking program was cancelled as a direct result of the revelations and the ensuing uproar. Other leakers have started to come forward, apparently inspired by his actions. And as the press has pored over Snowden's actions, it has become clear that support for government whistleblowers is woefully inadequate -- indeed, that they are regarded by the Obama administration pretty much as traitors.

More generally, the debate around Snowden has highlighted the important part that whistleblowers play in sustaining the rule of law and defending democracy. Now a group of whistleblowers has written a letter calling on the United Nations to recognize that role (pdf), and to improve protections within the organization (via Intellectual Property Watch):
As our experience shows, retaliation against whistleblowers affects the entire UN system and goes largely unchecked at all levels, including in the Executive suites. Some UN whistleblowers have been fired or demoted; others have been subject to more subtle forms of abuse like non-renewal of contracts or sudden transfer to duty stations on the other side of the globe; many face plain, simple harassment and intimidation.
The problems they have to deal with are very similar to those encountered by Snowden when he sought to use official channels to raise his concerns:
UN whistleblowers are forced to go through lengthy, and often expensive, internal appeal processes in which the burden of proof, as a practical matter, rests on the whistleblower to demonstrate retaliation (the usual standard in national systems requires the employer to justify their actions were not retaliatory).
As a result, they often end up taking the same route that he did:
Put simply, the UN system of justice fails whistleblowers, and most of us have been forced to leave the UN to save our livelihoods, our health and our reputations.
The letter's signatories go on to call for the UN to review whistleblower protection at the organization, and they make concrete suggestions on improving the lot of those revealing abuses, including recognizing that:
Whistleblower rights are human rights, which must be promoted and protected within the UN, as well as in affiliated specialized agencies and international organisations with immunity from national laws.
And extending whistleblower protections to:
UN peacekeepers, police officers, contractors, victims and any other person who provides information about misconduct that could undermine the organisation’s mission. The key to receiving protection should be the content of the information disclosed, not the identity of the person disclosing it.
Like much of the letter, that last point is applicable generally. It underlines the fact that a completely new framework for whistleblowers is required at every level, both nationally and internationally. The letter to the UN is part of an important move towards making that happen, in what could prove to be a key aspect of Snowden's long-term legacy.

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Filed Under: un, whistleblower protections, whistleblowers


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Apr 2015 @ 2:02am

    "unsuspected surveillance programs"
    Maybe if people would stop dismissing these things because "m..muh tinfoil hat" then it wouldnt be such a huge surprise that the government can lie too.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Apr 2015 @ 3:27am

    there's no way that anyone 'blowing the whistle' on a person or company should then be penalised in any way at all, especially if that means being accused of committing some ridiculous 'crime' against a government! the issue, as always, is more to do with politicians being in the pockets of big industry and/or security forces such as has happened to Edward Snowden. the way he has/is being treated by the US government and security forces is absolutely disgraceful! the problem with the USA though is that it thinks it can do whay it likes any time with anything and no one has the right to even question what's going on, let alone 'blow the whistle' and when you have people in the security forces who think the only way to keep a country and it's citizens safe is to know exactly what every one of them is saying, doing, going, reading, buying, etc etc, making their 'requirements' even worse than if there had been a terrorist takeover, what chance is there?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Yes, I know I'm commenting anonymously, 17 Apr 2015 @ 4:06am

    Perhaps it is also time for the UN to move their headquarters away from such a retaliatory environment as the USA, and find a more humane home.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Apr 2015 @ 7:30am

      Re:

      Preferably relocated in a country that can stand up to any bullying, threats and sanctions from the US without caving in to any such bullying, threats and sanctions to give the US as the US will most surely start hollowing and bellowing to such country that does host the UN if they are no longer able to host them.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Padpaw (profile), 17 Apr 2015 @ 8:14am

    Fair is fair, most of the Obama administration and congress are traitors.

    It is only by rewriting laws are they keeping themselves from being arrested for treason

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Thrudd, 17 Apr 2015 @ 10:27am

    New host country

    I was going to suggest Canada but Harper and crew seem more than happy to screw us over.
    I hear Finland is quite nice and still has Russian respect.
    Also being a Nordic country would keep those dignitaries from running around to much else they get eaten by a bear.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Padpaw (profile), 17 Apr 2015 @ 2:48pm

      Re: New host country

      Harper is a lapdog putting foreign interests in front of Canadian ones. Since he only gets a bas salary for doing his job, and the foreign interests bribe him with large amounts of money

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Apr 2015 @ 6:05pm

    UN is a useless organization.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    GEMont (profile), 19 Apr 2015 @ 3:08pm

    Welcome to hell, snowflake.

    Boy is this idea ever gonna get some heavy handed responses from just about every government on earth.

    Protect those who squeal on the crooks-in-office!!

    Good grief, that's like having an American Cop wear a tamper-proof camera while on duty.

    Aint gonna happen so long as the crooks are running the show.

    After all, protecting whistle blowers is the same as denying a criminal his "5th" right to "not incriminate himself".

    ---

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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