- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 26, 2006

NEW YORK — Christopher Burnham, the outspoken American who has been trying to modernize U.N. management practices, announced yesterday that he will leave next month to take a job in the private sector.

Mr. Burnham will leave the United Nations on Nov. 16. He said he will spend time with his family before starting with his new employers, who he declined to name.

Sources with the United Nations said he is going to work for Deutsche Bank but were uncertain about his responsibilities there.

Mr. Burnham, 50, became the undersecretary general for administration and management in June 2005, after running the State Department’s management office.

He is the highest-ranking American inside the U.N. Secretariat.

He is the first of many high-ranking U.N. officials expected to leave the organization as South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon takes over as secretary-general.

An experienced administrator with the direct manner of the Marine Corps Reserve colonel he used to be, Mr. Burnham has focused on bringing accountability and transparency to the often Byzantine U.N. bureaucracy.

He crafted protection for U.N. whistleblowers and reorganized the scandal-tainted procurement department that buys nearly $2 billion worth of goods and services annually. He also built up the U.N. Ethics Office and negotiated contracts and financing to refurbish the U.N. headquarters buildings.

“I enjoyed immensely my work at the State Department, and it has been particularly challenging and rewarding to be here at the U.N. as we have pushed forward a broad management reform agenda,” he told The Washington Times yesterday.

“I think the U.N. is advancing into the 21st century, and over the last 18 months we have given the new incoming secretary-general strong foundations on which to build a strong organization.”

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that he accepts the resignation “with regret” and described Mr. Burnham as a “driving force” in management reform efforts.

His efforts often alienated or at least bruised some delegations that distrusted Mr. Burnham, seeing him as Washington’s budget cutter rather than a servant of the larger organization.

U.S. Ambassador John R. Bolton praised Mr. Burnham for “reforming the United Nations through his tireless efforts to achieve a more efficient, more transparent, and ultimately more effective organization.”

Mr. Bolton, who has repeatedly said that senior officials should leave with Mr. Annan and allow Mr. Ban to pick his own team and advisers, added, “We expect many other senior U.N. officials to transition out as well, and we thank all of them for their service.”

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide