15 April 2005

After eight years of covering up for senior officials, a proposal is floated to create a high level ethics office to encourage employees to come forward with allegations of misconduct or mismanagement against their bosses. This was apparently based on a survey which found that U.N. staff believe little was done to deal with unethical behavior and that some who exposed wrong doing risked reprisals. As is commonly known, the problem was not that wrongdoings were not known but that the Secretary General's Office failed to take timely action. Some of those entrusted with guarding the rules were among those who violated them with impunity. Besides, there is already an Ombudsman Office; would an indication of what it accomplished over the last three years be published? Any specific case handled effectively? Any one taken to task? It's about time to realize that gimmicks won't work anymore. Meanwhile, stop demeaning your own staff. There was a time when they came to work with great joy. Now a rotten few was allowed to taint the name of the dedicated majority. Why was a year old overlooked proposal of a two year old survey remembered just now? Creating a unit in Mr. Annan's office "to hear reports of reprisals or threats against staff who had reported mismanagement or wrongdoing"? Those threatening others WERE IN THAT OFFICE. Staff needed PROTECTION FROM THEM NOT BY THEM.

A unit to report to the General Assembly annually "on all cases it handled and action it took" about investigating wrongdoing? WASN'T THAT THE ROLE OF IOIS (the Internal Oversight Office) WHICH EXPANDED FROM 25 TO OVER 125 IN FIVE YEARS? WASN'T THAT ALSO THE TASK OF THE OMBUDSMAN WHO ONLY OBTAINED OFFICE SPACE MONTHS AFTER HER APPOINTMENT and after the point was made to her as to who wields the power in the building?

For eight years they treated the staff with arrogance and dismissed them with impunity. Now they seem to find their way out by turning staff into spies. Just open the system of accountability and restore the confidence in a fair system. As it stands, the main threat to the staff is from some of those who have responsibility to protect.