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The Whistleblowers: Documentary Sheds Light on Toxic Culture Inside the United Nations

A documentary aired on BBC exposing the toxic culture present in the United Nations (UN). Abusers prey on the vulnerable while hiding behind a veil of saintliness. As a society, we look up to our political parties, law enforcers, independent standards agencies, and sports governing bodies, and live resigned to the fact that these have been proven to be functionally corrupt many times. 

The UN has perhaps one of the noblest missions of existing organizations, creating peace, unity and harmony among the various nations. Anyone who has studied the structure of the UN Security Council, however, knows that the UN is far from perfect. The UN has also failed vulnerable people many times, whether by its peacekeeping troops failing to fight back against aggressors and allowing innocent people to be slaughtered (in the Balkans in the mid-1990s) or by its peacekeeping troops themselves engaging in inhumane and criminal acts. In this documentary, various whistleblowers speak out about previously unknown instances of corruption in the UN. In areas most people think corruption could not reach, such as the collective effort to fight disease, world hunger, or climate change, such areas are surprisingly filled with unsavory individuals. 

One of the many examples shown in the documentary is Emma Reilly, who claims a boss overruled her when she refused to let China see the names of Uyghur activists who were to attend a Human Rights council meeting. She states that she feared they would be targeted by state repression. And perhaps you might think that is just one isolated incident. We, however, then hear from a guy named James Wasserstrom, who claims he has evidence that the tendering for the construction of a power station in Kosova was compromised by kickbacks. And another whistleblower John O’Brien came forward and raised concerns that an environmental program in Russia had succumbed to local money-laundering scams. 

These whistleblowers have separately alleged that once they have come forward, the UN went after them. One of them was suddenly accused of solicitation and viewing nude photographs on his phone work. Another whistleblower was promised whistleblower protection, only to then have his identity leaked to the very people to whom he had blown the whistle. 

In addition to these allegations, the whistleblowers switch the focus of the documentary to expose a culture of misogyny and rape. Exposing how peacekeeping troops in Haiti and the Central African Republic were implicated in several horrific sexual assaults against vulnerable locals. They also spoke with one of the victims, as well as the former Assistant Secretary-General, Tony Banbury, who resigned in dismay at the UN’s indifferent response to a child being horribly abused and assaulted. 

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