Last month, President Obama signed into law the 2014 Omnibus Appropriations bill. Buried in it is a provision that requires 15 percent of all U.S. contributions to be withheld from “each and every” United Nations agency that does not adhere to “best practices” in whistle-blower protection, some of which the law spells out. Secretary of State John Kerry is responsible to certify to Congress whether each U.N. agency is in compliance.
This provision was necessitated by the U.N.’s appalling behavior toward whistle-blowers -- people who point out illegal or wasteful practices in their workplace. The U.N. has an ethics office that is responsible internally for their protection. The foremost U.S. whistle-blower protection organization, the Government Accountability Project, has analyzed the ethics office’s record on the subject from 2006, when the office was founded, through 2012. During that time, the organization received 297 “protection-against-retaliation” inquiries. This is a strikingly high number, and should raise red flags about the culture within the U.N.