The world over, civil servants are commissioned to provide advice ‘without fear or favour’. Civil servants pledge official oaths to do so and governments across the world claim to require it. However, the ‘without fear or favour’ expectations for the international civil servant are far more equivocal — specifically, where ‘without fear’ is concerned.
In this paper, Kate Gilmore, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, writes that it can be tough to take risks with your professional future, but we are all worse off if international civil servants are not able and willing to speak ‘without fear’. She goes on to say that protection, when they do so, should be unequivocal.
Elaboration of what that means: of what service ‘without fear’ requires and how it should be protected, might be challenging. However, a first step would be for the UN Staff Rules and Regulations to spell out clearly both the requirement to speak the truth without fear – and the institution’s commitment to protecting staff who do so.