May 13, 2020 

Government Accountability Project Attorneys Submit Recommendations to United Nations Internal Justice Council
Letter Seeks to Improve Whistleblower Protection and Internal Justice System

WASHINGTON – The United Nations International Justice Council (IJC) is submitting recommendations to the General Assembly on how to improve internal justice systems within the UN, including protection for whistleblowers. Government Accountability Project was invited to submit recommendations to help inform the IJC’s final recommendations. The letter was submitted April 30. Government Accountability Project also sent a second supplemental letter that containing 48 points for consideration based on our extensive experience guiding clients through the malfunctioning UN justice system. 

In addition to refining and updating procedures, Government Accountability Project recommended several structural reforms. 

Consistency: Whistleblower rights are inconsistent throughout the various United Nations offices because the UN’s official policy only applies to the headquarters building in New York.  

Coverage: UN contractors are responsible for the most significant abuses of power, but whistleblower rights do not apply to them. 

Burdens of proof: The rules of the game for how much evidence it takes to win are incomplete and badly outdated compared to modern international standards, permitting arbitrary cancelation of whistleblowers’ rights. 

Accountability: Due to excessive discretion, currently in practice there is none foretaliating against whistleblowers. Institutional bullies have nothing to lose; the worse that will happen is they won’t succeed but probably will be rewarded for trying to do the dirty work.  

Remedies: Whistleblowers who survive the current process and receive a rare official victory routinely are still not fully vindicated. The rights will not be legitimate until those who win their cases are made wholewhich includes the right to reinstatement. 

Government Accountability Project Staff Attorney and Deputy Director of the International Program Samantha Feinstein commented, 

“We are delighted that the UN Internal Justice Council consulted us on our views. Over the years, we have represented many clients across UN agencies, funds and programs who have faced significant challenges navigating the faulty internal justice. We have also observed the UN’s whistleblower policy fall behind international best practice standards. The UN has the opportunity to lead by example instead of maintaining the deplorable status quoAlthough there are significant problems within the system, none are insurmountable. There are policy and procedural solutions that could turn the UN’s justice system from a trap to a genuine system for stopping abuses. We hope our recommendations will be adopted so that future whistleblowers stand a better chance at getting the outcome they deserve.” 

Contact: Samantha Feinstein, Staff Attorney and Deputy Director of the International Program
Phone: (202) 457-0034 x162 

Government Accountability Project 

Government Accountability Project is the world’s leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, Government Accountability Project’s mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, Government Accountability Project is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.