Representatives from this year’s postponed International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress have approved a number of 2020 Marseille Congress motions with groundbreaking provisions for whistleblowers. The 2020 Congress was originally scheduled for June of 2020 but has now been postponed until September of 2021.
IUCN is a membership union made up of hundreds of other smaller organizations and thousands of conservation experts. The sub-organizations are extremely diverse, and can include governments, NGO’s, and academic institutions. Over 17,000 experts offer their experience to the Congress. The Congress meets every 4 years to discuss how to encourage world governments and organizations to transition to more sustainable economic and ecological development plans.
Members of the IUCN Congress have approved a number of resolutions that relate to whistleblowers. The resolutions deal with wildlife issues ranging from treating organized crime as having a serious impact on the environment and classifying it as a serious crime, to implementing new measures to stop the sale of illegal wildlife products online. These motions demonstrate that IUCN recognizes that whistleblowers must be both protected and incentivized.
The motion to cut down on online sale of illegal wildlife products reads:
“RECOGNISING that law enforcement is strengthened when witnesses to crime are encouraged, financially and otherwise, to provide information (‘blow the whistle’) through appropriate mechanisms to prosecutors and other law enforcement as appropriate, and are protected from retaliation when they do so;”
Three out of the four motions mention financial incentives for whistleblowers as an essential step towards encouraging more environmental whistleblowers to step forward and report crime. The U.S. has had great success with laws that not only protect whistleblowers from retaliation, but also financially incentivize them with a percentage of the money recovered as a result of the whistleblower’s disclosure.
Laws like the False Claims Act (FCA), the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act have proven to successfully entice whistleblowers to come forward when they experience fraud. Although all these powerful laws have international applications, a recent report from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has speculated that the international whistleblower community would benefit from a single set of U.S. whistleblower laws.
A comprehensive international set of laws could incentivize international whistleblowers even further. These motions indicate that ICUN may be interested in supporting international whistleblower incentives beyond the scope of the current U.S. laws and they may prove to be promising steps to advance previously inadequate whistleblower protections in Europe.
Edit: A 12/17/20 version of this article used IUCD motions that were out of date. They have now been updated. It also stated that businesses and states may be members of IUCD, which was incorrect.