New BBC Twodocumentary special The Whistleblowers explores allegations of corruption inside the UN, and what happened to those who spoke up against it
The 90-minute documentary explores a culture of untouchability within the world’s leading diplomatic institution.
An organisation which was created to promote international cooperation and peace between countries, this BBC Two documentary shows that even the UN has its fair share of skeletons in its closet.
What is The Whistleblowers about?
The documentary asks Plato’s ancient question - who will guard the guards themselves.
The United Nations is an institution designed to promote world peace, however the documentary alleges that staff within the organisation have been able to get away with various abuses of power.
The Whistleblowers features interviews with people who worked within the UN and tried to challenge the culture of silence that had taken hold across the institution.
Those who did call out abuse say that they found that they were on themselves for daring to challenge wrongdoing.
What is the United Nations?
The United Nations is an intergovernmental organisation founded in 1945 following the Second World War to develop peace and security and friendly relations among countries.
It is a place where nations can come together to discuss pressing issues such as climate change, war, and security, and work towards finding common solutions.
There are 193 member states of the UN - because one step of becoming a country is to be recognised by the UN, almost all internationally recognised countries are members.
There are two exceptions, The Vatican and Palestine (which is recognised by 138 members).
The institution is guided by the UN Charter, which member states are bound by. The charter sets forth the “inherent dignity" and the "equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family”.
What allegations have been made against the United Nations?
Despite the grand ambitions of the UN, there have been several allegations made against some staff members and departments over the years.
There are roughly 37,000 UN staff members internationally, and most of them are protected by diplomatic immunity, meaning that they are protected from prosecution for breach of local laws.
One Unaids staffer filed a complaint against her boss for sexual harassment, and said that rather than supporting her, Unaids responded in such a way that almost broke her.
A member of staff in the United Nations Development Programme complained about corruption in the department, only to find that the UN then opened a years-long investigation into him.
Another man who spent nearly three decades reporting to the UN as a special rapporteur alleged that promoting human rights is not a top priority for the current Secretary-General.
Another major scandal not covered in this documentary came to light in 2017 when it was reported that more than 100 UN Peacekeepers were involved in running a child sex ring in Haiti over a ten year period.
Additionally, none of those involved were ever jailed.
When is The Whistleblowers: Inside the UN release date?
The feature-length documentary will air on BBC Two on 21 June at 9pm. It is available to watch now on BBC iPlayer.