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Top outgoing UN Swede slams Ban Ki-moon

AFP/The Local · 22 Jul 2010, 08:38

Published: 22 Jul 2010 08:38 GMT+02:00

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As Ban returned from a Kabul conference on Afghanistan, his spokesman faced questions about charges made by Swede Inga-Britt Ahlenius, the former head of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), that the UN boss sought to thwart her efforts and led the the world body into "decay."

In a 50-page memo to Ban leaked to the Washington Post, Ahlenius accused the secretary general of systematically undercutting her authority, notably by thwarting her efforts to hire her own staff.

Ahlenius, who stepped down last Friday at the end of a five-year term, also launched a rare, personal attack, saying there was no accountability at the United Nations and more broadly questioning Ban's stewardship.

"Your actions are not only deplorable, but seriously reprehensible...Your action is without precedent and in my opinion seriously embarrassing for yourself," she said in the memo quoted by The Washington Post on Tuesday.

"I regret to say that the secretariat is in a process of decay," the 71-year-old Swede added.

UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said Wednesday that "constructive criticism is welcome and necessary to move forward a large organization like [the UN]."

However, he charged that Ahlenius's report, which was being studied, contained "inaccuracies and misrepresentations." He also defended Ban's leadership on global issues.

"I think you only have to take a cursory look at this secretary-general's record on leadership, on the big questions, to see that he has achieved a lot and is clearly actively engaged on anything from climate change to gender empowerment, Haiti, Gaza, Afghanistan, disarmament," Nesirky said.

He added that a successor to Ahlenius to lead OIOS, where several positions remain unfilled, would be named in a matter of days.

Western diplomats, while strongly backing efforts to combat internal fraud and corruption, said Ahlenius's personal attacks on Ban were "over the top" and "counter-productive."

One diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Wednesday that Ahlenius appeared to have been particularly upset that Ban thwarted her bid to hire Robert Appleton, a former US federal prosecutor who led a UN procurement task force that aggressively probed corruption in UN peacekeeping missions from 2006 to last year.

Story continues below…

"It was a long-running bone of contention," he noted, adding that Ahlenius's "personal attacks on Ban's leadership... slightly undermines her case. It was wrong because Ban has shown some good leadership in a number of areas," he added.

"She came out as completely hysterical," another diplomat said. "It was so personal. It defeats the purpose."

When he took office in January 2007, the South Korean UN boss vowed to launch sweeping management reforms to root out fraud in a global agency that was tarnished by revelations of corruption in the oil-for-food program in Iraq and a succession of sexual abuse scandals involving UN peacekeepers around the world.

Ahlenius is no stranger to controversy. While serving as auditor general of the Swedish National Audit Office, she made several statements to media, charging that some of the governments proposed changes to the office would limit its ability to act independently.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

10:26 July 22, 2010 by LeoKinmann
As a suggestion, please dont refer to Ban Ki-Moon as "UN boss". It's too casual and unprofessional. His formal title is Secretary-General of the United Nations.
10:57 July 22, 2010 by Thebinary1
Its time to ban Ki-Moon from the SG role :D (SG=Stargate)

WhatTheFuck responses to this post is now expected ...
11:29 July 22, 2010 by Marko2010S
Who is Ban Ki-moon?

He is a toy and a slave for Israel and America.
11:36 July 22, 2010 by Sebastian_R
I don't like to critizise the UN easily. The organisation and many of its staff are doing a lot of good for this world and I personally know many really committed and great people that - sometimes with risk to their own life - try to help the poor and disadvantaged in this world.

However, I must agree with Inga-Britt Ahlenius. Mr. Ban Ki-Moon is not really doing a lot to help the UN. He is not advancing the UN reform agenda at all, he is not taking a stand on the big political issues of today's world and if something happens like the Nuclear Non-Proliferation conference he is quick to claim credit for the "silent diplomacy" (=him doing nothing to push for solutions in this world).

I love the UN. I know it is needed. But I'm disapointed with Ban's leadership, too. And it's a pity since the world could really use a strong SG.
11:41 July 22, 2010 by eddie123
there used to be a time when people resigned their positions in protest over issues of this nature. why didn't the woman resign from the UN and in the process state her reasons for resigning? that would have compelled the UN to act and she would have come away looking good - albeit from a moral standpoint.

Unfortunately, she chose to stay on the job and enjoy all of the benefits until her tenure had ended. perhaps, she wasn't due for another term and felt compelled to empty the trash bin on the UN Sec Gen. This is rather unfortunate and it doesn't speak well of her. just because she was barred from hiring a particular individual does not mean she can insult the entire UN of which she was a part of.

she should count herself lucky to be working at 71. obviously, the UN was kind enough to give her a job after she had reached the retirement age in Sweden. some ingrate if you ask me. more so, race always plays a part in these issues. Kofi Annan suffered similar attacks and humiliation from UN diplomats. Today, it is Ban-Kin Moon who is being rubbished. why? because he is Mr Nobody in the minds of the like of this swedish lady. God help us.
11:47 July 22, 2010 by Audrian
Why did she wait till the end of her five term to show her frustration. If she was unable to function she should have left earlier.

It is not new information that the UN is corrupt. Politically, the UN has fallen under the sraight jacket of the US. It is filled with inept politicians, who have weakened UN's resolve to solve major crisis. What good is it to have clean UN if it is politically corrup?

Having said that the UN is the only insitution, which provides small nations with opportunities to speak out.
12:47 July 22, 2010 by saab
No surprise that Marko and Audrian appear and find an anti American oranti Israel slant. I'm just waitingfor their entries onthe homeschooling story. I worked at the UN briefly in the 1970s and corruption was rampant and accepted in that institution. Nothing changes.
12:57 July 22, 2010 by here for the summer
@ eddie123 . this is not such a valuable job so your argument about the benefit does not hold water. You charge of racism is incorrect too.

I have seen other articles that say she should have refrained from the personal attacks as it undermined her valid points.

@marko what does israel and your racism have to do with this ? stay on the points
13:50 July 22, 2010 by LeoKinmann
@eddie123 Good point on the lady not stepping down earlier. The personal attack certainly has a racist tone to it, altho it could've been nothing but the woman's lack of manner and stupidity.
13:56 July 22, 2010 by babychuma
The UN is too large, and expensive it is a self sustainig bureaucracy whose purpose seems to be to act as a forum for third world dictators to complain about Europe, US, and especially Israel. Western nations have invested enough in this black hole, I think we should make the UN a one time payment then let it sink or swim. I bet it sinks.
14:40 July 22, 2010 by Z-man
@eddie123 and @Audrian:

You say Ahlenius should have quit earlier, but she faces a different set of rules in the game. When a woman and a man resign in protest, it has two very different effects:

- When a man does it, it is an expression of outrage and he is perceived as having integrity.

- When a woman does it, she is labeled "hysterical" (see above report), and a typical unreliable "quitter."

Even your own perception of Ahlenius might be borne of your having different standards for a woman:

- If a man had held out till age 71, many would tend to perceive him as a perservering man who did his best until he could do no more and then decided to speak for the record.

- If a woman holds out till age 71, oh well, she was just enjoying her "benefits" and being an "ingrate" at not having her term extended (something which is pure speculation on your part by the way).

I would surmise that racism had nothing to do with it. If you know anything about Swedish women in general, they tend to be Embracers of Universalism, un-racist to a fault, often going too far the other direction, mothering and giving assylum to criminals and abusers of the system.
14:54 July 22, 2010 by villjobba
Ingrid is hot! I love swedish women! :-)
16:41 July 22, 2010 by Sebastian_R
@Babychuma: The total buget of the UN is still smaller than the budget of the city of Paris. Any peacekeeping operation is way cheaper than most western armys can provide them.

I agree that the UN is not as efficient as is should be. But it is by far not as bad as the common person thinks.

@saab: there is a big difference between ineffective management, the lack of leadership on the one side and corruption on the other side. From all I know there is less corruption in the UN than in the average private sector company and significantly less corruption than in most governments of this world
16:44 July 22, 2010 by Atlas
UN is a piece of joke in world politics...Hats off to Ahlenius for speaking the truth...
17:08 July 22, 2010 by GefleFrequentFlyer
People still pay attention to the UN? That's news to me.
19:31 July 22, 2010 by saab

Seems like you want to discount the long history of graft at the UN by claiming that it is less prevalent than in the private sector. Trust me... the graft was absolutely rampant and the few UN folks who figured it all out and were willing to go public realized that they would be out of work in a hurry if they raised questions. We used to fill requests for trucks and other large equipment to third world countries who had land reclamation projects underway. After confirming receipt of the vehicles and/or equipment in the port and it was signed by local UN staff on site, we would receive, on a regular basis, notifications from a different staff member that said vehicles or equipment "never arrived". No one at the home office in NY cared and they simply applied for another shipment. It was as if a blank check were provided, everyone was in on the game and no one cared. Colleagues who worked there more recently confirmed that... nothing has changed.

There is no accountability at the UN. No one there senses any fiduciary responsibility because they have no skin in the game. It's different in the private sector (at least in my experience).

And I won't bring up the lavish lifestyle that UN staff and diplomats enjoy in NY...
21:38 July 22, 2010 by babychuma

Oh you mean cheap like the peace keeping mission in Congo where the UN troops were caught exchanging food for sex with children, or maybe the peacekeeping mission in Darfor where UN troops exchanged food for sex. Or perhaps your talking about the UN troops in Lebenon who sold their uniforms to Hezbolla to cary out the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit. The UN may be cheaper than Paris but you do get what you pay for, if you were in one of those places would you rather see the UN or NATO troops?

Whatever it costs it's too much, and the waste is horrendous, an insult to the charter.
14:17 July 23, 2010 by cogito
"the UN is the only insitution, which provides small nations with opportunities to speak out (Audrian) "

Right. Small murderous dictatorships that brutalize women run the U.N..

I only wonder if the largest most corrupt organization on the planet is more or less corrupt under Ban than it was under Kofi Annan.
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