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‘The United Nations is failing’

The United Nations assistant secretary general for field support, who quit his job earlier this month, said that the organisation “is failing” and “needs a leader genuinely committed to reform”.

Anthony Banbury detailed “colossal mismanagement” in the world body, including bureaucracy that he described as “blur of Orwellian admonitions and Carrollian logic that govern the place”.

“If you locked a team of evil geniuses in a laboratory, they could not design a bureaucracy so maddeningly complex, requiring so much effort but in the end incapable of delivering the intended result,” he said. “The system is a black hole into which disappear countless tax dollars and human aspirations, never to be seen again.”

The result of this was “minimal accountability,” he continued. Citing the example of a “manifestly incompetent” chief-of-staff of a large peacekeeping mission, Mr Banbury said “many have tried to get rid of him, but short of a serious crime, it is virtually impossible to fire someone in the United Nations”.

In the past six years, I am not aware of a single international field staff member’s being fired, or even sanctioned, for poor performance,” he added.

Mr Banbury also touched on the issue of UN peacekeepers, including the decision “to include soldiers from the Democratic Republic of Congo and from the Republic of Congo, despite reports of serious human rights violations by these soldiers”.

Since then, troops from these countries have engaged in a persistent pattern of rape and abuse of the people — often young girls — the United Nations was sent there to protect,” he said. “As the abuse cases piled up, impassioned pleas were made to send the troops home. These were ignored, and more cases of child rape came to light.”

“Never could I have imagined that I would one day have to deal with members of my own organization committing the same crimes or, worse, senior officials tolerating them for reasons of cynical expediency,” lamented Mr Banbury.

Sri Lankan troops were expelled from Haiti for sexually abusing children in 2007, with 111 soldiers and 3 officers were repatriated back to Sri Lanka after being part of UN mission in Haiti and were accused of a string of sexual assaults, including rape of children as young as 7 years old. No prosecutions or punishments have taken place. 

Mr Bannury concluded by saying that despite the leadership of Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon “far too many others lack the moral aptitude and professional abilities to serve”.

“We need a United Nations led by people for whom “doing the right thing” is normal and expected.”

See his full piece in the New York Times here

Also see:

‘Exclude countries that do not discipline peacekeepers’ – NYT (19 Feb 2016)

No mercy for soldiers found guilty of abuse says French president (30 April 2015)

ICP questions UN on impunity for SL peacekeepers (18 September 2013)

Haitian sexual abuse troops remain unpunished (11 January 2012)

Rs 18 billion paid to Sri Lanka for UN peace keeping missions (09 July 2012)

Haitian lawyers condemn impunity for Sri Lankan soldiers (11 September 2011)

Child rape impunity no bar to UN peacekeeping deal with Sri Lanka (27 May 2011)

Sri Lanka forces fire into Haitian civilians (25 November 2009)

UN confirms sex charges against Sri Lankan troops in Haiti child abuse (09 April 2008)

Rape by Sri Lankan troops resurfaces – in Haiti (07 November 2007)