20 December 2005 As part of his campaign to revamp the United Nations and root out misdeeds and mismanagement, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has signed a new whistleblower protection policy, to take effect on 1 January, aimed at ensuring that the world body functions in an open, transparent and fair manner.
“Retaliation against individuals who have reported misconduct or who have cooperated with audits or investigations violates the fundamental obligation of all staff members to uphold the highest standards of efficiency, competence and integrity and to discharge their functions and regulate their conduct with the best interests of the Organization in view,” the new policy states.
The official name of the Secretary-General’s Bulletin, as the policy document signed by Mr. Annan yesterday is called, is ‘Protection against retaliation for reporting misconduct and for cooperating with duly authorized audits or investigations.’
“As its name makes it clear, this new policy provides protection from retaliation to those who report misconduct as well as those who cooperate in audits or investigations,” spokesman Stephane Dujarric told the daily noon briefing today.
“This policy represents ‘best practice’ from many nations and international organizations. As you know, the Organization has worked on this policy for many months, consulting with staff as well as the Government Accountability Project and a consultant recommended by Transparency International,” he added.
The new policy addresses concerns raised by staff in last year’s integrity perception survey. The Secretary-General hopes that it will give full assurance to those seeking to report misconduct that their voice will be heard and that they will be protected from retaliation.
The bulletin establishes it a staff duty to report any breach of the Organization’s regulations and rules and to cooperate with duly authorized audits and investigations. It defines retaliation as “any direct or indirect detrimental action recommended, threatened or taken because an individual engaged in an activity protected by the present policy.”
When established, retaliation is by itself misconduct.
But transmission or dissemination of unsubstantiated rumours is not a protected activity. Making a report or providing information that is intentionally false or misleading constitutes misconduct and may result in disciplinary or other appropriate action.