15 December 2004

Suddenly those arrogant scandal-ridden characters discovered the United Nations. Those, mostly newcomers, who took the Organization and its staff for granted are claiming that exposing them will be tantamount to destroying the United Nations, while, in fact, the U.N. is much better off without them. As if they really cared anyway. If they did, they would have behaved much better. Instead of bringing disgrace to the U.N., they could have done what most international civil servants did, and still do, throughout their proud career: devoted their energy and talent to exemplary service, instead of downgrading its name. For the last several months, every day carried embarrassing media reports around the world. Dedicated talented staff are being blemished by a few rotten apples -- and some of them never really belonged there in the first place; they were appointed by the current Secretary General behind whom they are hiding.

They used their fleeting authority not to inspire a dynamic example but bended the rules to their own advantage. Instead of being embarrassed by their irregular actions, they get upset when they are exposed.

Former U.S. President Clinton told an interviewer after his recently published biography that his most troubling aspect of an infamous affair was that he did it for the worse reason: just because he felt he could do it. With due consideration to the great difference in scope and personalities, the same destructive concept seems to apply here. No doubt the Chef de Cabinet of the U.N. Secretary General, a proxy Chief Administrative Officer, can find a way to evade established rules to appoint his own son. No doubt the top investigator fully authorized to look into any and every case in the system will be able to "legally" promote or demote or cajole. No doubt the former Dutch Prime Minister and High Commissioner for Refugees can get away with some touchy feely habit. But the impression of inappropriate action hurts their reputation and the perception of arrogant manipulation hurts the Organization they are entrusted to serve. Particularly at these very delicate times, the U.N. needs every possible support. Negative reports on some senior U.N. officials certainly play into the hands of anti-U.N. groups. But don't blame the media for reporting. Instead, give a good example. Uphold the good name of the Organization that entrusted you with its emblem. Don't use it as a cover. Protect it. And don't hide behind the Secretary General. Help him and the post the occupies by setting an example of the best possible behaviour and the most impressive performance. For to LOOK GOOD, eventually you have to BE GOOD.