Wednesday, 22 June 2016

UN Child-abuse Whistleblower Skeptical That Ethics Can Return to UN

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Ethics at the United Nations are long gone, assuming they were ever there. And Anders Kompass (shown), the UN whistleblower who exposed international “peacekeeping” troops raping and exploiting young children in Africa, is now skeptical that ethical behavior can be resurrected at the organization, he admitted. In a long piece explaining his decision to resign after more than 20 years working at the global body, the UN human-rights official blasted what he called the “ethical failure” of the UN and the “impunity” that now permeates it. And while Kompass said he still believes a “universal organization” is needed to improve the chances of world peace, his experience of being persecuted for trying to stop the savage abuse of children by “peace” troops has left him skeptical that the necessary changes at the UN can be successful. The high-profile resignation sent shock waves around the world.  

Writing in IRIN News, Kompass explained that in his long career as a human-rights worker, he has seen a lot of horror and brutality. However, “an eight-year-old boy describing in detail his sexual abuse by the peacekeepers meant to protect him is the kind of account I wish I’d never had to read,” he said. Unfortunately, that is exactly the information that came across his desk. Instead of doing something — if only to protect the children — UN officials had been passing the explosive revelations from “desk to desk, inbox to inbox,” according to an official investigation. Kompass realized he had to act, though, and so he passed the information to French authorities, hoping they would be able to do something to stop the abuse and bring the perpetrators to justice. That is when Kompass' world came crashing down.

The Swedish national had “seen a lot of the UN’s dysfunction over the years,” he said in his June 17 explanation published at IRIN News, which focuses on international humanitarian news. “But I wasn’t prepared for how the organization would deal with these events, with the ensuing scandal — and with me,” he said. As has now been documented in official reports and newspapers around the world, when Kompass took action to protect the children from barbarian “peace” troops, he was escorted from his office by guards, suspended, humiliated, and investigated — allegedly for violating “protocol.” Leaked e-mails later revealed that the highest echelons of the UN hierarchy conspired to destroy the whistleblower at a secret meeting in Turin, Italy. The ensuing scandal rocked the UN and led to numerous investigations, in addition to a devastating loss of credibility for the international organization and its armed “peace” forces. Even inside the UN, there was shock and horror.

But accountability is still nowhere to be found. Since the first scandals came to light, there have been more than 100 additional cases of sexual abuse by UN troops reported in the Central African Republic, mostly against children. As the UN knows well, that means many more have in fact been victimized — with some of the documented cases involving children as young as eight or nine years old. Similar horrors have been documented in virtually every nation occupied by UN peace troops. In one Ivorian town occupied by the infamous “blue helmets,” a survey by Save the Children revealed that eight out of 10 underage girls admitted to being sexually exploited by UN forces. Savage crimes by UN forces have been documented all across Africa, as well as in Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Yet the only ones who get punished are more often than not the whistleblowers who try to expose it.   

Of course, as Kompass pointed out, his case and the CAR scandal is hardly the first time the UN has disgraced itself in an extreme manner. In his explanation, Kompass cited a few examples: “Cholera in Haiti, corruption in Kosovo, murder in Rwanda, cover-up of war crimes in Darfur,” and more. That only scratches the surface, as children raped and innocents slaughtered by UN “peace” troops all over the world going back generations could attest. According to Kompass, though, the situation with the UN is getting worse, not better. “Sadly, we seem to be witnessing more and more UN staff less concerned with abiding by the ethical standards of the international civil service than with doing whatever is most convenient — or least likely to cause problems — for themselves or for member states,” he explained.

The reason, Kompass said, is mostly because the cost of behaving ethically is perceived as being too high by UN staffers. “Put another way, the benefit to the individual of not behaving ethically is perceived as greater than the cost of taking an ethical stance,” he added, pointing out that UN staff members are “afraid” of doing what is right — and for good reason. As this magazine and even U.S. congressional hearings have documented, while it claims to be unable to rein in rapists, killers, and child molesters among its “peace” armies, the UN has become very proficient at one thing: destroying whistleblowers who try to expose the crimes of their superiors.

There can be little doubt that the fear being experienced by ethical UN staffers is deliberate. “This fear is based on widespread experience,” continued Kompass, one of many UN whistleblowers who even in recent years have been terrorized and persecuted for trying to do the right thing. “Many staff members have been the victims of retaliation or have witnessed retaliation against those who have taken unpopular ethical stances (including reporting on internal unethical conducts), in the form of sidelining, harassment, sudden transfers, poor evaluations, and non-renewal of contracts. They are convinced that the system does not protect them.” Several victims of precisely that sort of abuse spoke to U.S. lawmakers about it earlier this year.   

What happened in his case, Kompass said, has “greatly strengthened” the conviction of UN staffers that acting ethically will bring about severely negative consequences. “I acted ethically when I reported the child sex abuse in CAR to external law enforcement authorities,” Kompass said. “I provided them with the details they needed, in the midst of a civil war, to quickly find and protect the victims; stop the perpetrators; and get information from UN investigators. And yet I was asked to resign, I was suspended from my job following my refusal to do so, and I was publicly pilloried by UN senior officials and their spokespersons over a period of months while being investigated for improperly disclosing confidential information.”

Despite that, more UN staffers with a conscience would still risk it all — if they believed that taking the risk would lead to investigations and punishments for the perpetrators. “But, from the top down, the UN leadership fails to take principled stands,” he said, citing, as one recent example, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's decision to remove the Saudi dictatorship from a list of governments that kill children because the regime threatened to withdraw UN funding. The UN also “rarely” holds employees responsible for acting unethically, particularly those in positions of power. And even when it does, “meaningful punishment seldom follows,” Kompass said. “The UN’s accountability system is broken. It simply doesn’t work.”

Incredibly, the UN has been claiming its “internal system of justice” worked in the Kompass case. He was flabbergasted. “This is preposterous,” Kompass said, adding that the “external” panel that cleared him was only appointed to investigate the case under sustained pressure from member governments. The panel found that the entity that should have investigated the problem, and its chief, “abused” their authority. Yet nobody suffered any consequences, including those who ignored “horrific reports of children sexual abuse” all up and down the UN chain of command. “The inevitable result of cases such as this is that the staff members experiencing or witnessing this impunity lose their faith in the system,” Kompass said. “I know I did.”

In his native Sweden, government officials resign over allegations of misappropriating $10, Kompass continued. “In contrast, at the UN, staff found to have concealed the sexual abuse of children, or to have displayed questionable conduct, do not feel it necessary to resign; nor does the organization seek their dismissal,” he said. “To make matters worse, those who take an ethical but unpopular stance, including by reporting the misconduct of others, have learned that the pain of disclosure and retaliation far exceeds any benefit: the system is cumbersome, the process is protracted, structural changes to address the issues highlighted do not necessarily ensue and compensation is often minimal.”

Indeed, so far, nothing has been done to fix the systemic issues highlighted by the Kompass case. Nor has anything been done to provide redress for the suffering Kompass and his family endured as UN officials publicly demonized him and made his life miserable. He could have applied for monetary compensation from a UN “Dispute Tribunal,” he said, but that just would have taken more money from taxpayers around the world instead of from the salary of those who actually “committed the offenses,” Kompass said. “Ethical standards within the UN will not improve until those responsible for misconduct, rather than the organization, are personally made to suffer for their actions,” he added.

For now, with UN staffers terrified to speak out against crimes and corruption — even when it involves the brutal sexual abuse and exploitation of children by “peace” troops — those moral and ethical people remaining within the system have few options. So some have turned to leaks. “This means that UN staff entrust the defense of ethics to the public outside rather than to the managers inside the organization,” Kompass said. “This is how bad it is.” Indeed, if fellow UN staffers had not leaked information on his case to outside organizations and the media, Kompass likely would have been fired or forced to resign out of desperation and humiliation.

“Were it not for those organizations, press outlets, and unknown individuals, the truth would have been buried inside the UN,” Kompass said. “I am enormously grateful to all of them — but equally sad that their intervention was necessary.” Similarly, he said, human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, corruption and exploitation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and ongoing abuses by peacekeepers in a various peace missions are only known to the world “because someone broke the silence and leaked.” As a response to the UN's “ethical failure,” that sort of leaking is quickly becoming the norm.

But instead of welcoming the opportunity provided by whistleblowers to do right, and to strengthen the values of the UN, the global body continues to respond “by punishing those who try to hold an ethical stance, hiding the truth to the extent possible, and striving to tighten its control over information,” Kompass said. The UN also “promotes an atmosphere of fear and marginalizes individuals seen as not toeing the line,” he continued, adding that even after the “dust settled” around his case, he was never made to feel welcome or accepted at the UN. That made it impossible for him to continue, hence his resignation, effective at the end of August, after 21 years of loyal service to the UN.

“I still believe in the defense of human rights,” he concluded. “I still believe that a universal organization is needed to improve the chances of world peace and progress. But I also believe that without great changes aimed at resurrecting ethical behavior within the UN, the organization will not be able to successfully address the challenges of today and of tomorrow. And, on that last point, my experience has unfortunately left me skeptical.”

Indeed, the case has caused an uproar around the world, with even pro-UN lawmakers lambasting the organization over its handling of the Kompass case. “This resignation appears to be a damning indictment of the leadership at the United Nations that has failed to end the horrific sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers and protect those who report wrongdoing,” said Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who recently said that if he heard UN “peace” troops were on the way to the United States, he would rush home to protect his family from them. “The so-called 'zero-tolerance' policy has provided cover for a culture of impunity where allegations are swept under the rug and whistleblowers are intimidated to stop them from revealing the truth. The U.S. must use its influence as the largest contributor to peacekeeping to restore accountability and oversight of missions that are supposed to be about protecting vulnerable populations and restoring stability during conflict.”

With the UN accumulating more and more power — indeed, UN boss Ban now calls the UN the “Parliament of Humanity” between his frequent attacks on U.S. rights — Americans need to pay close attention to what is happening. Whether a universal organization is needed for peace, as Kompass believes, is certainly debatable among people of goodwill. As far as Americans are concerned, though, U.S. tax dollars should not be showered on a club for dictators that, instead of stopping savage crimes of the most horrific nature, persecutes the very whistleblowers who try to stop and expose those crimes. Legislation in the House Foreign Affairs Committee dubbed the American Sovereignty Restoration Act would end U.S. membership in the UN and evict its headquarters from U.S. soil. It might not fix the problem completely. But at least the UN would have less money to abuse, and American taxpayers would not be complicit in the horrors.

Alex Newman, a foreign correspondent for The New American, is normally based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @ALEXNEWMAN_JOU. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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