- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 17, 2005

NEW YORK — The senior aide to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he does not expect additional firings of key personnel as the organization struggles to defend itself from multiple scandals.

“We’re not in the mood for more wholesale change,” said Mark Malloch Brown, who became Mr. Annan’s chief of staff and primary adviser three months ago.

“Senior appointments will not stop, but there is no wholesale change,” he told The Washington Times in an interview earlier this week.

As advisers scrambled to put the finishing touches on Mr. Annan’s recommendations for U.N. reform, new protocols for hiring senior officials are already being tested.

With more than a half-dozen key offices vacant or almost so, senior officials are casting a broad net to find the “bright, energetic agents of change,” rather than the usual assortment of bureaucrats, diplomats and nephews that are formally put forward by governments, he said.

“When we search proactively, we get, we build a more international team than when we get an ambassador coming in here with the CV of someone they insist we place,” Mr. Malloch Brown said. “If you sit here and wait for governments, you don’t get the world’s best.”

To find a new person to head the refugee agency known as the High Commissioner for Refugees, a job that became available last month after accusations of sexual harassment and intimidation became public, the organization contacted governments, private aid groups and it circulated criteria for the job search on the Internet.

There were ads in the back of the Economist, a weekly newsmagazine.

At least a dozen persons have submitted resume packages, and the “short list” will be subjected to interviews by a search panel and unprecedented reference checks.

A similarly public search is under way to find people to run the U.N. Development Program, to direct Middle East peace efforts and to oversee economic programs in Asia and the Arab world.

The chief U.N. administrator’s job will soon be available, as will the comptroller’s.

All jobs are theoretically priorities, but as Mr. Malloch Brown said, “It’s generally hard to find people who want a job for 18 months.”

The last U.N. liaison to Washington left more than nine months ago, while its anti-corruption official will leave in six weeks, at the conclusion of a nonrenewable, nonextendable contract.

Both positions are key defenders against scandals, including the administration of the 1996-2003 oil-for-food program in Iraq and reports of sexual exploitation by U.N. peacekeepers.

“It’s implausible to believe you could keep the same staff for 10 years,” Mr. Malloch Brown said, referring to the length of Mr. Annan’s two terms as secretary-general.

“Governments don’t do that,” he said, noting that President Bush has already replaced half his Cabinet.

Mr. Malloch Brown, 51, is a British national who spent years in Washington as a partner in the Democrat-leaning public relations agency Sawyer Miller Group, then as vice president of external relations at the World Bank.

He moved to New York in 1999 to run the U.N. Development Program (UNDP), which has a budget of more than $2 billion a year and operates in 174 countries.

He abruptly left that job to become the U.N. “chef du Cabinet” and Mr. Annan’s right hand in just days after a Dec. 26 tsunami devastated Southeast Asia.

He will continue to oversee the UNDP until a successor is found.

Mr. Malloch Brown has not bothered to decorate his new office, which enjoys an unbroken view of the East River far below, and suburban sprawl of Queens beyond. Things are just too busy.

Many jobs never really go on the global market.

The United States has run UNICEF with few interruptions for almost 60 years, just as the British and French have long held onto jobs in political affairs and peacekeeping.

Still, Mr. Malloch Brown said: “The whole [hiring] system is being made more transparent. No more smoke-filled rooms.”

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