Tuesday, July 27, 2010

UN chief reviews self-policing, nominates watchdog

The Associated Press
Monday, July 26, 2010; 12:56 PM

UNITED NATIONS -- An internal review of the United Nations' ability to investigate itself has been launched and a Canadian woman who was chief auditor for the World Bank has been nominated to take over the internal watchdog agency, senior U.N. officials said Monday.

The unusual review of the functions of the Office of Internal Oversight Services that conducts investigations, audits and inspections will focus on "areas where OIOS is not active," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's chief of staff, Vijay Nambiar, told colleagues in an internal memo obtained by The Associated Press on Monday.

The agency serves as the U.N.'s chief tool for accountability and oversight for the world body's billions of dollars a year in spending and many of its agencies, programs and policies.

The memo was sent to colleagues on Friday, the same day that Ban sent the General Assembly his nomination of a Canadian woman to serve as the next undersecretary-general for oversight and take over OIOS.

A U.N. diplomat identified the woman as Carman Lapointe-Young, who was appointed auditor general of The World Bank Group in August 2004. She is currently serving on the Institute of Internal Auditors' Global Capacity Development Task Force and is an external member of the audit committees of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the U.N. relief agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA.

The diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity because her appointment has not been officially announced.

U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky declined to confirm Lapointe-Young was Ban's selection when asked about it Monday. He said the name would officially be released "quite soon," but probably not Monday.

Lapointe-Young would replace Sweden's Inga-Britt Ahlenius, who departed this month at the end of her five-year term by sending Ban a 50-page confidential memo that described her office as severely hamstrung and blamed many of the problems on Ban's leadership.

Ahlenius accused Ban of blocking her appointment of a permanent investigative director and taking other measures that reduced her supposed independence within the U.N. In her memo, she described Ban's attitude toward OIOS as seeking "to control the function and to suppress it as an effective instrument."

The directorship position has been unfilled since mid-2006. Ahlenius left it open for 2 1/2 years, but blames Ban for her inability to fill it since roughly the end of 2008. A series of acting directors has run the investigation division for the past four years.

The current acting director, Michael Dudley, e-mailed colleagues after the Ahlenius memo leaked to contradict some of her assertions.

"Since I have been in this position, there has never been any attempt by the secretary-general or his staff to influence an investigation or my supervision of the investigation division," Dudley wrote in the e-mail obtained by AP.

Ban was studying Ahlenius' memo "in its entirety," Nambiar wrote to colleagues, but the secretary-general "fully recognizes" OIOS' independence.


Associated Press Writer Edith M. Lederer contributed to this report from the United Nations.

No comments: