National Whistleblower Center Cited in UN Report on Human Rights Defenders

Published on February 11, 2022

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National Whistleblower Center Cited in UN Report on Human Rights Defenders

WASHINGTON, D.C. | February 11, 2022 — National Whistleblower Center (NWC) commends Mary Lawlor, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, and the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council (HRC) for their landmark report calling for the prioritization of whistleblower protections as a human rights mechanism.

NWC has long advocated for the necessity of strong whistleblower protections in the global fight against corruption and for human rights. In October 2021, NWC submitted a comment in response to the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders’ call for submissions. The final report “At the heart of the struggle: human rights defenders working against corruption” cites NWC’s submission and was presented at the UN General Assembly at its 49th session and is available in several languages.

The report consistently recognizes whistleblowers as human rights defenders and highlights insights from the National Whistleblower Center, noting that “in the United States of America the treatment of whistleblowers who disclose misconduct is highly inconsistent. While whistleblowers are celebrated in certain contexts, there are several notable examples where whistleblowers have been retaliated against for coming forward.”

Importantly, the report explains that “whistleblowers are often in severe danger when they expose corruption. Some risk their career, their livelihoods and sometimes their personal safety to expose wrongdoing that threatens the public interest” and that “states should do more to enact meaningful protections for whistleblowers and encourage more people to publicly expose corruption.”

The Special Rapporteur dedicates a section of the report to recommendations of increased whistleblower protections, calling for member states to “prioritize the adoption and implementation of legislative and other measures to protect informants and whistleblowers, including comprehensive whistleblower protection laws” by “protecting whistleblowers against all forms of retaliation. . . ensuring the confidentiality of the identity of whistleblowers. . . [and] providing personal protection measures to whistleblowers.”

Executive Director Siri Nelson is highly enthused, noting that “in light of NWC’s significant investment in developing whistleblower protections worldwide, particularly as it applies to the adoption of the EU Whistleblower Directive, the UN Report comes as a refreshing insight for the global community. It is incredibly affirming to have been included in the Special Rapporteur’s report and to see such a clear message from the UN that whistleblowers are human rights defenders, the key to anti-corruption worldwide. This has long been NWC’s message. We commend Mary Lawson and look forward to continuing to engage with the international human rights community.”

NWC encourages governments around the world to take heed of the UN’s recommendations swiftly and prioritize whistleblowing in the fight against corruption. Ensuring whistleblowers are protected against retaliation, provided anonymity, and incentivized to come forward is the best way to fight corruption, at home and abroad.

Siri Nelson is available for comment. For more information, contact NWC at

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