- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 3, 2005

Inspector awaited

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced last week six candidates on the shortlist to succeed Dileep Nair as U.N. inspector general when Mr. Nair leaves office April 20.

The candidates for the five-year post are:

• Claus Andreasen of Denmark, now audit director at UNICEF.

• Inga-Britt Ahlenius of Sweden, auditor-general of Kosovo and former auditor-general of Sweden.

• Franz-Hermann Bruener of Germany, director-general of the European Anti-Fraud Office, known by its French acronym, OLAF.

• David McDonald of New Zealand, former auditor-general of New Zealand.

• Rafael Muoz of Spain, former director of the office of internal audit and inspection for the International Monetary Fund.

The job requires experience in accounting, auditing, investigation and management, knowledge of internal U.N. structures and eagerness to stamp out waste and fraud. Applicants should have all this in a velvet glove of creativity and tact.

Mr. Annan hopes to get his choice to the General Assembly for approval not long after Mr. Nair steps down. The post alternates between the industrial and developing countries with each nonrenewable term.

Mr. Nair, of Singapore, leaves under a cloud of accusations ranging from sexual harassment to improper hiring. He says the charges come from enemies he made trying to clean up the organization, and warns that his successor will face the same demeaning rumors and accusations.

Reforms readied

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s senior staff have mobilized on behalf of his reform plan, called “In Larger Freedom.” It emphasizes human rights, security and development and proposals to make the United Nations more effective.

Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frechette and senior advisor Robert Orr held initial meetings last week with the five regional groups, starting with Asia and working through to Latin America and the Caribbean.

“It was a way to seek clarifications from member states,” Miss Frechette said last week. She and Mr. Orr sought to reassure diplomats that Mr. Annan’s “package” doesn’t mean member states must accept it as is, although Mr. Annan has stressed that they are not to pick and choose.

Miss Frechette, a former Canadian ambassador to the United Nations, said General Assembly President Jean Ping soon will hold discussions with smaller groups. And, hopefully, she added, it will all fall into place with a ready declaration before the summit on reform and development scheduled for mid-September.

“So far, there is a lot of interest,” she said, “but a lot of questions as well.”

Staff talk tomorrow

Secretary-General Kofi Annan is expected to address staff tomorrow, a week after the Volcker investigation found him guilty of poor oversight of the oil-for-food program.

“It will be a bit of a pep talk to build them up and motivate them,’ said his spokesman, Fred Eckhard.

It has been a bad few months for U.N. staff morale: Peacekeepers in at least four missions have disgraced the blue helmet with predatory sexual behavior, and there are many vacant senior posts and concerns that Mr. Annan’s reform package announced two weeks ago and accepted warily by member states could eliminate long-secure jobs.

“You just don’t know what’s going to happen around here next,” said one staffer the day after a management consultant criticized rising U.N. star Carina Perelli of Uruguay, who helped set up the Iraqi elections. The consultant accused Mrs. Perelli of “creating a sexually charged atmosphere” and favoring some employees.

U.N. staff have long complained about few opportunities for advancement, archaic workplace rules and lack of accountability of senior managers.

Recent accusations including sexual harassment, hiring irregularities and impunity for senior officials demoralize many who have worked at the United Nations for a long time.

Betsy Pisik receives e-mail at bpisik@washingtontimes.com.

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