International Handbook on Whistleblowing Research
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International Handbook on Whistleblowing Research

Edited by A. J. Brown, David Lewis, Richard E. Moberly and Wim Vandekerckhove

In the modern age of institutions, whistleblowing is now established as one of the most important processes – if not the single most important process – by which governments and corporations are kept accountable to the societies they are meant to serve. This essential Handbook provides researchers and policy makers from around the world with a comprehensive overview of the state of our knowledge regarding this vital process. In addition to drawing from the last 30 years of progressively more systematic research into whistleblowing, it also provides cutting-edge analysis of the conceptual and practical challenges that researchers will want to confront in the next decade.
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Chapter 18: Whistleblower protection in international governmental organizations

Shelley Walden and Bea Edwards


The role played by international governmental organizations (IGOs) in global stability, development and finance has become increasingly important since the Second World War. IGOs, however, represent a formidable challenge to whistleblowers trying to report corruption, fraud, abuse of authority, gross mismanagement or a danger to public health and safety, without sacrificing their careers and reputations. Because they operate in a multinational environment, IGOs are not subject to the legal regime of any one member state in most types of disputes. They are especially insulated from external judicial review in labor disputes, and advances in whistleblower protection legislation at the national level do not, therefore, apply to their staff members. At the same time, these institutions escape the transparency mandates of their member states, and they are thus free to operate behind closed doors when significant policy and financial decisions must be taken. Further, IGOs often influence policy in their borrowing member states and also control substantial amounts of funding in these countries. Anti-corruption research generally plants a red flag of warning in territory like this: secrecy, power, global reach and money equal fertile ground for corruption. This set of circumstances defines the parameters of a unique set of problems for whistleblowers making disclosures at IGOs and seeking protection from retaliation. James Wolfensohn first made corruption an issue at the World Bank in 1996, during an address to the Annual meetings. Since then, much anti-corruption rhetoric has been heard from IGOs but concrete achievements on this front are few.

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