World Whistleblowers Day 2022: The fight is…
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Despite the recognition that whistleblowers are crucial to society, the fight for their rights remains full of hurdles. But there are also wins to celebrate.
© Transparency International
Every year on 23 June, we take a moment to recognise the crucial role that whistleblowers play in the fight for a more just world. There has been no shortage of evidence of this in recent years, as we all reckoned with the COVID-19 pandemic.
And yet, this year’s World Whistleblowers Day comes with a sobering reminder that our systems are still failing to protect whistleblowers. This is reiterated by the new BBC documentary that recounts alleged retaliation against those reporting corruption,
mismanagement and sexual abuse internally in the United Nations (UN) agencies over years.
Far from being the first report of such kind about the institution whose mission is to address the world’s biggest challenges, the revelations expose a pattern of egregious misconduct at all levels and a system unable – or perhaps unwilling – to protect whistleblowers.
In March 2021, as the world was reeling from the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, Francesco Zambon resigned from the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN’s public health agency, after months of intolerable working conditions. Prior to that, he had reported his concern about an apparent suppression of a study on Italy’s pandemic preparedness – findings which were first published and then withdrawn the very next day by the WHO. Even though several civil society organisations came forward to support Zambon and asked for accountability from the organisation, no action has been taken to date.
A few months later, Emma Reilly – an employee at the United Nations Human Rights Office who had exposed the office’s practice of revealing names of dissidents to the Chinese government – was fired. As was John O’Brien, who reported corruption in United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) climate change projects. Reilly and O’Brien are two of the many former UN employees speaking out about their mistreatment in the new BBC documentary.
Their and others’ cases are crushing. They point to a deep-rooted tolerance of abuses of power in the UN system, which fails to hold perpetrators to account. In fact, civil society organisations have been concerned about UN whistleblowers facing retaliation and violations of due process for a while. For over a year, we have been calling for urgent reforms of the whistleblower protection mechanisms at UN agencies.
United Nations agencies are facing justified criticism for their treatment of whistleblowers. One such whistleblower is Dr. Francesco Zambon who spoke out against wrongdoing at the World Health Organization during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Zambon, Reilly and O’Brien are not the only whistleblowers who suffered retaliation for exposing wrongdoing. The fact that they were mistreated by the very institutions mandated to uphold human rights and protect public health should give us pause. If international organisations are failing to provide protection for whistleblowers, one can only imagine the struggle of whistleblowers around the world who speak out against wrongdoing in much more dangerous conditions – and whose stories don’t make headlines.
At the national level, delays in legal support or protection for whistleblowers only make things worse. In the European Union (EU), countries were supposed to have transposed the EU Whistleblower Protection Directive into national law by now. The Directive, which was adopted in 2019, was created to provide a strong foundation for EU Member States to achieve uniform and robust whistleblower protection. But when the deadline for the transposition fell due in December 2021, only five countries had adopted new whistleblower protection laws. Only four more countries have joined that group even now, and influential Member States like Germany are still lagging behind.
Implementing the Directive is important, given that 45 per cent of EU residents surveyed in our 2021 Global Corruption Barometer fear reprisals if they report corruption.
The fight for whistleblowers’ rights has also produced key wins, but for these wins to spark real change and better protection for whistleblowers, we must continue fighting.
Since 2020, we have been actively advocating for a transposition of the EU Directive in a manner that ensures the protection of all whistleblowers, and not just those reporting breaches of EU laws as mandated by the Directive. Transparency International’s chapters made concrete recommendations to their governments to that end in 19 Member States. So far, our efforts have been successful in Denmark, France, Lithuania and Sweden, where our recommendations were reflected in new whistleblowing laws. We will keep up the pressure until all countries have seen the process through.
Globally, individuals have also been speaking out against corruption with the help of our Advocacy and Legal Aid Centres. With this support, people around the world have secured significant wins locally or otherwise and remain optimistic despite the challenges. This reaffirms what we and so many of our allies believe – that every individual can make a difference in the fight against corruption.
And this year, we launched a new project – Speak Up Europe – which will tackle corruption in high-risk areas such as public procurement by empowering individuals to report misconduct to the bodies that are best placed to take concrete action.
Anti-corruption fighters, including whistleblowers, are increasingly under threat. Supporting them is a core pillar of our work – through legal advice, rapid response, and advocacy for better legal and institutional frameworks. This not only makes a difference for the individuals involved but protects everyone by working towards an environment that allows people to speak out safely against corruption and be heard.
Ocean census aims to discover 100,000 previously unknown marine species
Researchers have embarked on an ambitious global initiative to discover and record marine life hidden in the world’s oceans.
Ocean Census aims to identify 100,000 unknown species in the next 10 years, allowing scientists to better understand and protect the deep-sea ecosystem.
There are huge gaps in our knowledge of the ocean depths. Of the 2.2 million species believed to exist in the Earth’s oceans, only 240,000 have been described by scientists, according to the census.
It typically takes scientists at least a year to definitively describe a species post-discovery, but new types of technology are making it much easier for sea creatures to be studied in their natural habitat. These include tools like underwater laser scanning that can scan gelatinous creatures such as jelly fish that are hard to study on land.
“You can now look at (the creature) in the water column and see what the morphology is and study them in situ,” said Jyotika Virmani, the executive director of the Schmidt Ocean Institute in Palo Alto, California, which will participate in the project.
“What we’re moving towards is a place where we can actually perhaps even do taxonomic identification in the water column instead of bringing everything back to land. And that’s really exciting and will make things move a lot faster.”
All living organisms, including humans, disperse genetic material into the environment, and the project will also make use of new and accessible techniques to sample waterborne DNA to detect and track species.
While many of the species discovered are likely to be on the smaller end of the scale, Virmani noted that the world’s longest sea creature was only discovered in 2020 off the coast of Western Australia — a 150-foot stringlike animal known as a siphonophore.
Ocean Census will also help to identify how marine ecosystems are responding to the climate crisis, and assess how marine life could adapt to a warmer climate.
The project is being led by Nekton, a UK-based marine science and conservation institute, and funded by The Nippon Foundation, a nonprofit foundation based in Japan.
Over the next decade, dozens of expeditions to the ocean’s biodiversity hotspots will search for new species involving divers, submarines and deep-sea robots. The project also hopes to involve private vessels and individuals. The data and information gathered will by openly accessible for scientists, policymakers and the public for noncommercial use.
3 tips can help you save if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, personal finance expert Suze Orman says
When you’re living paycheck to paycheck, it can be tough to find money to save.
That was the situation one audience member, Natalie, wrote in about ahead of CNBC’s Women & Wealth event on Tuesday. While grappling with high childcare and housing costs, Natalie is barely breaking even, she wrote, which makes finding money to set aside for big goals like retirement difficult.
A recent CNBC Your Money Financial Confidence Survey, conducted in partnership with Momentive, shows that she is not alone. More than half, or 58%, of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, according to the March results.
If you find setting money aside difficult, it’s a sign that it’s time to change your lifestyle, personal finance expert Suze Orman said.
As part of its National Financial Literacy Month efforts, CNBC will be featuring stories throughout the month dedicated to helping people manage, grow and protect their money so they can truly live ambitiously.
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“You have to strike the word ‘can’t’ out of your vocabulary,” Orman said in response to the audience query.
Rather, people should draw up a financial to-do list right now that includes getting out of credit card debt, having an eight- to 12-month emergency fund and funding their retirement accounts, Orman said.
That’s as many experts, including Orman, say a recession could be coming.
But whether there is a recession or not, you need to be prepared that an unexpected event — like an illness, accident or layoff — could set you back, Orman said.
“The most important thing, really, for everybody to understand about their money … is that you have got to live a life below your means, but within your needs,” Orman said.
Several tips can help you get started.
1. Make yourself a ‘No. 1 priority’
Portrait of an elegant man in a suit preparing for an important day at work
Daniloandjus | E+ | Getty Images
People who think they are living paycheck to paycheck likely have something they are doing with money that they should not be doing, Orman said.
For example, if you go out to eat rather than eating in, that’s $10 you could be putting into a Roth individual retirement account — an account for post-tax contributions towards retirement.
“You have to make yourself a No. 1 priority,” Orman said.
That means you do what you have to do in order to meet your financial goals, she said, even if it means taking on more than one job or cutting back on discretionary expenses.
You should be always be funding your retirement accounts, Orman said.
2. Automate your savings
To get into the habit of setting money aside, it’s best to automate the process, Orman said.
So whether you choose to do $50 a month or $100 a month, by setting aside money before you see it in your paycheck, “you will find that you do not miss it,” Orman said.
Inside MT BARBER: The Rising Star in the Barber Shop Industry
Gustavo Olmedo Romero, a professional barber from Oaxaca, Mexico, is making waves in the world of barbering with his brand MT BARBER. Born on September 1, 1986, Gustavo migrated to the United States at the age of 15 in search of a better future. He settled in New Brunswick for two years before moving to Delaware, where he worked multiple jobs, including dishwasher, cook, and gardener.
This period of his life was crucial in shaping his work ethic, and Gustavo is now living his dream.
At the age of 24, Gustavo started learning the profession that had fascinated him since childhood. He taught himself through videos and practice sessions with his friends, and in 2010, he began working in a barber shop where he worked for seven years, honing his skills and becoming a high-level barber. In 2017, Gustavo opened his first barber shop called MT BARBER SHOP, where he employed 12 barbers. Two years later, he opened his second shop with the same name, adding 12 more barbers to his team and expanding his brand.
According to Gustavo, the world of barbering is an excellent profession to learn and grow in, but it requires a lot of discipline and constant learning because haircuts and styles are continually evolving. Gustavo has also worked with professional soccer players, including José Andrés Martínez and Gelmin Rivas. His vision is to expand his brand nationally and internationally, and he knows that it will take a lot of hard work and effort, but he is determined to achieve his goals.
MT BARBER’s Instagram handle is @mexican_talent, and you can book an appointment on their website mtbarbershop.booksy.com. Gustavo Olmedo Romero is changing the world of barbering with his brand, MT BARBER, and he is an inspiration to many aspiring barbers.
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