|INVESTIGATION REPORT ON BAGHDAD BOMBING RAISES SERIOUS QUESTIONS.
ANNAN WRITES TO STAFF. STAFF DEMAND FULL ACCOUNTABILITY.
1 November 2003
The impact of Baghdad explosion is growing within the whole U.N. system as more facts are learned and
more questions are asked. An "Independent Panel" led by former Finnish President and Senior U.N.
Official Marti Ahtisaari made specific observations on 20 October and the Secretary General announced
he will study carefully. Ten days later, on the eve of a gathering of heads of U.N. offices, programmes
and agencies, the Secretary General sent a letter to the staff promising improved security. That,
however, was not enough to contain the anger, frustration and sense of unapplied justice. The more
the delay in providing a clear and tangible response, the sharper the response. Already staff
throughout the system are insisting that those responsible, no matter how senior, are held
Panel's Executive Summary
1. In the view of the Panel, the UN security management system failed in its mission to provide
adequate security to UN staff in Iraq. The failure of UN management and staff to comply with standard
security regulations and directives left the UN open and vulnerable to the type of attack that was
perpetrated on 19 August 2003. In particular, the UN security system failed adequately to analyse
and utilize information made available to the system on threats against UN staff and premises.
The security awareness within the country team did not match the hostile environment. The observance
and implementation of security regulations and procedures were sloppy and non-compliance with
security rules commonplace. Adequate security arrangements may not have been able to prevent the
attack against the Canal Hotel perimeter, but would certainly have minimized the vulnerability
of the staff and premises and reduced the number of casualties caused by the attack.
2. The main conclusion of the Panel is that the current security management system is
dysfunctional. It provides little guarantee of security to UN staff in Iraq or other high-risk
environments and needs to be reformed. The challenge of security of UN staff in crisis zones in the
current world requires the highest level of professionalism and expertise from the security
management. The current system is not able to provide this expertise. The new system should have a
clear chain of command, an audit trail, extensive information management capabilities and clear
division of labour and coordination. Adequate financial resources for the UN security management to
act in a timely and effective manner should be available.
3. A major deficiency identified by the Panel is the lack of accountability for the decisions and
positions taken by UN managers with regard to the security of UN staff. The United Nations needs a
new culture of accountability in security management. Personal accountability of those entrusted with
the safety of personnel as well as all staff in the field for their compliance with security rules
should be paramount. In the case of Iraq, the Panel is of the view that the seriousness of the
breaches in the UN security rules and procedures in the field and at Headquarters warrants a
separate and independent audit process.
4. There is no place without risk in Iraq. A new security approach is needed in order to ensure
staff security in such a high-risk environment. The key objective for the UN system in these
circumstances is to reach and maintain an acceptable balance between UN operational objectives in
Iraq and the security and protection of its staff and assets, both national and international.
Before the decision to resume the activities in Iraq is made, a thorough and professional security
assessment should be undertaken in order to determine whether the return of international staff
is possible and, if so, under what kind of security arrangements. These arrangements should be set
in place prior to the return of UN staff.
5. The panel feels strongly that these principles should be applied to all UN missions.
Secretary Generals Letter
Like all of you, I am gravely concerned at the findings of the Independent Panel which I appointed,
after the disaster of 19 August, to look into the safety and security of UN personnel in Iraq.
The Panelís report reveals serious shortcomings in our provision of security to UN staff in Iraq.
We owe it to all those affected by the attack on our Baghdad headquarters -- the dead, the injured,
the survivors, and their families -- to do our utmost to ensure that such failures are not repeated,
either in Iraq or elsewhere. Indeed, we also owe that to ourselves and to each other.
Accordingly, I am taking immediate action to implement the Panelís recommendations.
First, in response to the recommendation to set up a separate and independent audit and accountability
procedure, I am appointing an independent team of experts to review the responsibilities of key
individuals for the lack of preventive and mitigating actions before the attack on 19 August.
Secondly, I am reviewing the serious weaknesses that have been revealed in the management of our
security system. In early August a team of three external security experts completed a thorough
evaluation of UN Security Arrangements, which had been requested by the General Assembly. Their
report calls for a strategic reorganization of UN security management, to create a unified and
strengthened system. The details of this are now being worked out under the chairmanship of the
Deputy Secretary-General, and that effort will now also benefit from the findings of the Ahtisaari
Thirdly, on 20 August I instructed the Office of the Security Coordinator and the whole security
apparatus of the UN system, including all the Funds, Programmes and Agencies, to conduct an in-depth
review of all our security systems and the measures needed to ensure that we have the rules,
procedures, equipment, training, and above all the capacity that will allow us to be much better
prepared, in future, to meet the new kinds of threats that we have to face. In completing this review
we will seek the advice of independent experts.
Fourthly, immediately after 19 August I instituted a review of the threats faced by our missions in
the field, especially the most vulnerable of them. Measures, including those recommended by the
Ahtisaari Panel, are now being taken to upgrade the security of these missions.
Finally, I am keeping the situation in Iraq itself constantly under review, particularly in the
light of the new wave of violence in Baghdad this week, particularly the attack on the International
Committee of the Red Cross. In this connection, our small remaining team of international officials
in Baghdad is being relocated temporarily for consultations with a team from Headquarters, to
thoroughly review our future operations in Iraq and the security arrangements that will be required.
As Secretary-General, I will spare no effort in acting on the conclusions of the Panelís report.
I deeply regret the systemic failures that it has revealed, and I look forward to your support in
our endeavours to rectify them. Yours sincerely, Kofi A. Annan, New York, 31 October 2003
These are initial steps in a process which, it is hoped ,will be serious,urgent and firm.
The issue goes to the heart of leadership, responsibility, and accountability, as well as to the
performance and delivery of international civil service. Like everyone else who lost beloved
colleagues in the first such assault on the U.N., we have many questions and could list many facts.
In allowing adequate -- but not prolonged -- time for a responsible response and an indication of
action, it will be useful to produce the executive summary of the investigation, mention the first
letter by the Secretary General in ten days and the general reaction of the staff. We owe it to the
U.N., our Organization in which we believe and to our fallen colleagues to continue pursuing this