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The Protection of United Nations Whistleblowers against Retaliation

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At a time when better protection of whistleblowers is increasingly demanded, how does the United Nations deal with its own whistleblowers? As UN agents have immunity they rely on an internal UN justice system. However, in 2005, the UN Secretary-General issued a Bulletin that created a mechanism based in an Ethics Office to protect whistleblowers. In practice, the new system has not met expectations and has raised many legal issues, in particular with regard to the competence of the United Nations Dispute Tribunal to review the decisions of the Ethics Office.As a result, UN agents have started to avoid the Ethics Office mechanism and have gone directly before UN judges. Moreover, in early 2017, the new Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, reformed the UN’s Ethics Office mechanism.

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