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Question of the Day
With a resentful heart and righteous sneer, the United Nations announced last week that it is forced to pay one year's wages to genocide suspect Callixte Mbarushimana, a Rwandan Hutu whose contract was not extended after his purported history of crime became known.
Mr. Mbarushimana was a staff member with the U.N. Mission in Kosovo until 2001, when the Rwandan government requested his extradition. Kosovar authorities arrested and jailed Mr. Mbarushimana, and a U.N. spokesman told the press that he had concealed his activities during the application process.
But the U.N. Administrative Tribunal (UNAT) found in a decision released last week that the U.N. staffer was left "totally exposed," a violation of a U.N. regulation against defamation. Mr. Mbarushimana was uncompensated for the month he spent in a Kosovar jail. His one-year contract was not renewed.
"The secretary-general had withheld compensation pending this very unusual appeal and was also pending any possible legal action for alleged crimes against humanity being taken against Mr. Mbarushimana by either the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, or judicial authorities in France, where he currently resides," said U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric. "The secretary-general has now been forced by our justice system to make this very unfortunate settlement."
The UNAT noted in its densely written 11-page finding that the contract carries no expectation of renewal. The decision does not mention that genocide is contrary to the U.N. Charter and against most national laws.
One could argue that crimes against humanity are not explicitly mentioned in any of the staff rules and regulations, which have been recently updated to note that it is a firing offense to "embarrass" one's superiors by leaking confidential documents or for sexually molesting refugees.
Mr. Mbarushimana was not employed by the United Nations in 1994, when as many as 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were exterminated in a three-month bloodbath.
More than a year after declaring that it would hire an outside consultant to read and analyze U.N. officials' top-secret financial-disclosure forms, the U.N. ethics office has finally retained the services of global consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers for the job.
The accounting firm has significant U.N. experience, having created a tracking system for tsunami contributions, audited U.N. management practices, advised on the Global Compact, and fielded a former chairman, Joseph Connor, to serve as the undersecretary-general of administration and management.
U.N. officials said it was unlikely that the auditor would begin work until after the New Year, when outgoing U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and probably two to three dozen other top officials who filled out the forms will have left the organization.
Former management czar Christopher Burnham, who has recently left for the private sector, said it was impossible to make the forms public because no one would fill them out, and because some international staffers could potentially be at risk from their own national regimes.
Betsy Pisik may be reached via e-mail at BPisik@WashingtonTimes.com
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