In his first official remarks at the United Nations on Monday, President Donald Trump called for the protection of UN “whistleblowers” who speak up about internal wrongdoings.
The United Nations’ annual gathering of world leaders kicked off on Monday with a U.S.-hosted event attended by world leaders and senior officials from more than 100 countries. President Trump’s first speech at a meeting with world leaders was focused on ways to “reform the United Nations so that it better serves the people we all represent,” he said on Monday morning, telling the group, “We support your efforts to look across the entire system and to find ways the United Nations can better and be better at development, management, peace, and security.”
President Trump’s comments to the international leaders have been much-anticipated, after the way he has spoken about the worldwide organization in the past. For instance, during his March 2016 speech before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s conference, then-candidate Trump talked about the “utter weakness and incompetence of the United Nations.”
He pointed out the international organization’s failures and emphasized the need for reforms that could “make the United Nations great.”
“We seek a United Nations that regains the trust of the people around the world. In order to achieve this, the United Nations must hold every level of management accountable, protect whistleblowers and focus on results rather than on process,” Trump said on Monday.
Despite living in a White House besieged by leaks, protecting whistleblowers has been high on President Trump’s agenda. In fact, back in April, he announced the signing of an executive order on Improving Accountability and Whistleblower Protection to help fight corruption within the notoriously corrupt Department of Veterans Affairs.
In June, he signed the Veterans Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act into law, declaring that the bill “protects whistleblowers who do the right thing” in an effort “to reward, cherish and promote the many dedicated employees at the VA.”
Under the United Nations’ Secretary-General’s Bulletin on protection against retaliation (ST/SGB/2017/2) the Ethics Office protects staff from being punished for reporting misconduct or for cooperating with an official audit or investigation, commonly known as “whistleblower protection.”
“By providing protection to staff who may otherwise be reluctant to come forward, the UN learns about and can respond to misconduct. This strengthens accountability and maintains the integrity of our operations and programs,” according to the UN bulletin. “Protection against retaliation applies to all staff members, interns and United Nations volunteers. Punishing consultants who report violations of UN rules and regulations is also prohibited.”
President Trump prefaced his remarks by saying, “The United Nations was founded on truly noble goals. These include affirming the dignity and worth of the human person and striving for international peace. The United Nations has helped advance toward these goals in so many ways: feeding the hungry, providing disaster relief, and empowering women and girls in many societies all across the world.”
Then, he launched into a recap of the organization’s problems. You can read them in their entirety below, or by watching the video at the bottom.
“Yet in recent years, the United Nations has not reached its full potential because of bureaucracy and mismanagement. While the United Nations on a regular budget has increased by 140 percent, and its staff has more than doubled since 2000, we are not seeing the results in line with this investment. But I know that under the Secretary General, that’s changing and it’s changing fast. And we’ve seen it.
That’s why we commend the Secretary General and his call for the United Nations to focus more on people and less on bureaucracy. We seek a United Nations that regains the trust of the people around the world. In order to achieve this, the United Nations must hold every level of management accountable, protect whistle-blowers and focus on results rather than on process.
To honor the people of our nations, we must ensure that no one and no member state shoulders a disproportionate share of the burden, and that’s militarily or financially. We also ask that every peacekeeping mission have clearly defined goals and metrics for evaluating success. They deserve to see the value in the United Nations, and it is our job to show it to them.
We encourage the Secretary General to fully use his authority to cut through the bureaucracy, reform outdated systems, and make firm decisions to advance the U.N.’s core mission. Further, we encourage all member states to look at ways to take bold stands at the United Nations with an eye toward changing business as usual and not being beholden to ways of the past which were not working.
Mr. Secretary General, the United States and the member states present today support this great reform vision. We pledge to be partners in your work, and I am confident that if we work together and champion truly bold reforms, the United Nations will emerge as a stronger, more effective, more just, and greater force for peace and harmony in the world.
Thank you, Mr. Secretary General. And I look forward to advancing these shared goals in the years to come, and it is a great honor to be with you today. “