Tags: united | nations | revolt

United Nations Staff in Revolt

Sunday, 18 May 2008 06:35 PM

By Stewart Stogel

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UNITED NATIONS -- United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in office only 16 months, faces a staff in revolt.

The personally affable and easygoing U.N. chief was stunned by a vote of no confidence taken by the U.N. Staff Union on late last week.

The union, representing more than 5,000 employees at the New York City headquarters, sent a letter on Friday to Ban explaining their action, a copy of which was obtained by NewsMax.

In it, Staff Union pPresident Stephen Kisambira complains about Ban's "lack of access" to the union leadership:

"We have sought to meet with you, since you assumed office, to discuss directly with you simmering issues of concern to staff. You have accorded us a couple of perfunctory meetings. You have not responded to a single letter or resolution we have sent you. The indifference and lack of appropriate response in the past pressed the staff to express a vote of no confidence in senior administration officials, including the secretary-general."

Kisambira laments that the relationship with the office of the secretary-general, already combative with Kofi Annan, has actually gotten worse since Ban assumed office on Jan. 1, 2007.

Among the items the union says Ban and his staff have chosen to ignore are costs of living adjustments, a U.N. "stimulus" package for USA-based staff similar to President Bush's tax refund (U.N. employees pay a staff assessment but no U.S. taxes) and the allocation of temporary office space while U.N. headquarters undergoes a 5-year renovation.

The issue of staff safety overseas was also an issue of concern.

Last December, U.N. offices in Algeria were attacked by al-Qaida, leaving 22 dead and 40 wounded. The Algeria attack, the worst in U.N. history, surpassed the 2003 bombing of the world body's Baghdad headquarters that left 17 dead.

The trend, according to the Staff Union, has resulted in alleged incompetence by senior management from the previous Annan administration being allowed to continue.

As an example, they point to the recent appointment of Angela Kane (Germany) to the post of Under Secretary-General for Management despite repeated charges of mismanagement in past U.N. posts and numerous subsequent investigations that have criticized her performance.

Senior U.N. officials have privately expressed their "doubts" over the Ban appointment.

Another example of mismanagement cited by the Union is the vulnerability of the U.N.'s computer system.

In its letter to Ban it is charged that the computer system is "vulnerable to unauthorized use and access, abuse and breach of confidentiality especially with regard to communication by e-mail."

Coincidentally, Ban's U.N. Web site was hacked in August 2007.

The Web site was off-line for almost a day with no explanation from the U.N. as to how the attack took place or who was responsible.

Unfortunately for Ban, many inside the U.N.'s diplomatic corps express similar "concerns" regarding the secretary-general's "performance."

"It is incredible. He (Ban) has been in office a year and a half and he still does not understand how the United Nations works," confessed a veteran U.N. diplomat.

U.S. diplomats have remained silent on the latest turn of events.

It is noteworthy that none of the U.N.'s permanent five members (U.S., U.K., Russia, China and France), the de-facto governing broad of the world body, have come to the defense of the secretary-general.

Ban's office had no comment.

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