Monday, July 7, 2008
IN RESPONSE TO BRAHIMI REPORT, COMMITTEE ON STAFF SECURITY
3 July 2008
Hopes Brahimi Panel recommendations will be implemented more effectively
than those issued after Baghdad bombing
The Independent Panel on Safety and Security of UN Personnel and Premises World-wide, headed by Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi, has released a sobering report which while it indicts the Organization for failing “to develop a culture of accountability in security management,” appears to insulate “the higher echelons of the hierarchy, including the Secretary-General from the System’s passivity observed by the Panel.
The report shows that the UN and particular individuals failed to do their duty, and in ways somewhat similar to the circumstances leading up to the 19 August 2003 attack against the United Nations in Baghdad. While the Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security took the honorable course of action by resigning, the Staff Union’s Committee on the Security and Independence of the International Civil Service does not believe that fault solely lies with one person.
In the name of accountability, the Committee calls on the Secretary-General to take fully responsibility for the insufficient implementation of the security management system approved by the General Assembly. It further calls upon him to immediately take action to prevent future tragedies from occurring and staff from being endangered; to immediately remove any individuals that failed in their duties; and to swiftly implement the reforms and recommendations of the Brahimi Panel. The Committee urges – for the safety of all staff – that more effective reforms be instituted that will prevent loss of life on the scale experienced in Baghdad or Algiers.
The Committee is not enthused by the appointment of Mr. Ralph Zacklin—an insider who has served as a legal counsel of the United Nations peacekeeping operations—to head an “independent” accountability group that will review the responsibilities of the key individuals and offices connected with the attack on the UN premises in Algiers. The apparent conflict of interest of some members of the group, and their track record at the UN, does not portend a restoration of confidence and morale among the staff. Reliance on senior UN officials to conduct a peer review on accountability issues has proven to be a failure in the past, a situation which the long overdue reform of the internal justice is expected to rectify.
The Committee welcomes the bulk of the recommendations of Mr. Brahimi’s panel, especially with regard to ensuring adequate and sustainable funding for security and safety; establishing the principle of “no programme without security; the urgency of reorganizing the constituent security management structures into a single unified system; the importance of having a reliable, appropriate, and robust information technology (IT) support system to develop information and knowledge, critical to security analysis and threat assessment; and the Panel’s reiteration that safety is half the mandate of DSS and that a dedicated Safety Unit should be established within DSS with competent staff and resources to enhance the safety of UN personnel and to develop a system-wide guidance on air safety.