Wednesday, July 21, 2010

CNN: - Senior official chastises UN chief in parting shot

By Evan Buxbaum, CNN
July 20, 2010 6:07 p.m. EDT

United Nations (CNN) -- A departing senior U.N. official has released a rare rebuke of her boss's performance -- saying the United Nations is "drifting into irrelevance" under Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's management.

Swedish diplomat Inga-Britt Ahlenius has been serving as the head of the department charged with combating U.N. corruption. As her five-year term came to an end this month, Ahlenius sent a report to Ban admonishing the secretary-general for his "absence of strategic guidance and leadership."

The report was leaked to the Washington Post, which has posted a three-page summation from Ahlenius on its website along with a responding letter from Vijay Nambiar, Ban's chief of staff.

Ahlenius has been running the Office of Internal Oversight Services since she was appointed to a five-year term in July 2005. As her tenure came to an end, Ahlenius explains, she felt it was her duty to highlight Ban's failure to lead the United Nations down the right path.

"There is no transparency, there is lack of accountability. ... I do not see any signs of reform in the organization," she writes.

In response to Ahlenius, Nambiar writes that Ban has had to strike a balance between running the United Nations and "providing truly global leadership."

However, Nambiar emphasized that Ban stated early in his term that "transparency and accountability would be the cornerstone of his tenure."

Nambiar calls Ban's efforts "visionary" on a number of fronts, including climate change and women's empowerment, and writes that the secretary-general has "led from the front on important political issues from Gaza to Haiti to Sudan."

Ahlenius disagrees, writing that the secretary-general's office has been seriously damaged under Ban's oversight. She contends the secretariat is now in a "process of decay."

"We seem to be seen less and less as a relevant partner in the resolution of world problems," she writes. "This is as sad as it is serious."

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