U-N takes no action to protect whistle-blowers
Wed Apr 10, 2013 6:0AM
Critics say the United Nations has a lackluster approach to ethics-- specifically in its lack of action in standing up for whistle-blowers.The UN has a black-and-white -- by-the-book system for protecting whistle-blowers from retaliation. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesman detailed some of that system on Tuesday. The trouble is -- that rarely happens -- and it didn't in the case of James Wasserstrom. Wasserstrom is a former investigator with the UN's office in Kosovo. Years ago -- he blew the whistle on corrupt dealings involving cash kickbacks surrounding the building of a power plant. Instead of protecting him -- the UN turned his life upside down -- snatching his credentials and searching his home and office. Though Wasserstrom eventually won his case with the UN -- the paltry settlement he received doesn't cover his legal bills -- let alone the damages suffered. Wasserstrom took the next step on Monday -- calling for the US to withhold fifteen percent of its funding to the UN -- which is US law according to the 2012 Consolidated Appropriations Act. In a letter to US Secretary of State John Kerry -- Wasserstrom wrote that succeeding in the UN Justice System made him come "away with compensation that left me far worse off than if I had not come forward at all," We asked Del Buey about Ban's track record concerning whistle-blowers. The UN Ethics Office does -- though. In more than 350 complaints from 2006 to 2012 -- the UN documented one case of retaliation -- one -- rejecting more than ninety-nine percent of submitted retaliation claims. Shelly Walden of the Government Accountability Project said in a statement that "...the United Nations is not serious about protecting whistleblowers or holding itself accountable. Instead, the organization is sending a loud and clear message to its staff: Keep quiet." Del Buey wouldn't comment on the Wasserman case -- citing the UN's policy of not commenting on cases in progress.