UN discusses future of Lubbers after report on alleged sexual harassment
Saturday 19 February 2005
Ruud Lubbers, the senior UN official engulfed in a sexual harassment scandal, has made a defiant bid to stay in office, despite the damning conclusions of a confidential report revealed in
Ruud Lubbers, the senior UN official engulfed in a sexual harassment scandal, has made a defiant bid to stay in office, despite the damning conclusions of a confidential report revealed in The Independent.
Mr Lubbers, who is under pressure to step down, met Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, in New York yesterday. He emerged adamant he would remain at his post as the High Commissioner for Refugees.
Mr Lubbers said he would stay on "working hard for my organisation and for refugees" and denied that Mr Annan had pressured him to resign. However a statement from Mr Annan's office last night said the two men had discussed Mr Lubbers' "future in the organisation," in light of published reports of sexual harassment. UN sources said Mr Lubbers might not remain in his post.
Mr Lubbers angrily denied allegations that he had harassed a subordinate. "This is made up. I think it must have just grown in her mind," he said.
"I ushered the woman out of the room with my hand on her back and that is all ... you might call it familiar, but certainly not sexual harassment."
Privately, UN staff expressed disappointment that Mr Lubbers, formerly the Dutch prime minister, has not offered to resign. A senior UN source, who preferred not to be named, said Mr Lubbers was trying to prolong his stay despite the scandal, something he has denied. He is due to step down this December.
"[Mr Lubbers met Mr Annan] to ask for an extension to his term beyond the end of this year," said the source. "He's prepared a long dossier on why he is the innocent victim in all of this and will be stating his case to [Mr] Annan." The scandal broke when allegations made by an administrative employee, 51, that she had been sexually harassed were upheld by the UN watchdog, the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS).
She alleged that he had grabbed her and thrust his groin into her buttocks and held her in that position. Mr Lubbers has denied the allegation. But investigators established what they described as a "pattern of conduct".
Mr Annan closed the matter after taking legal advice and concluding that there was insufficient evidence and the report was buried until this week.
The UNHCR, the body responsible for marshalling the aid effort for the world's 17 million refugees, could be facing a morale crisis if the scandal is not brought to a quick close. A UNHCR spokesman in Geneva said: "No organisation can go through something like this [the allegations] and not find it difficult, especially when it involves the leader," he said.
- 2 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 4 Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
'Fire at every person you see': Israeli soldiers reveal they were ordered to shoot to kill in Gaza – even if the targets may have been civilians
Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
Who should I vote for? The Independent quiz matches best political party for undecided voters ahead of the general election
First-time buyers in London 'need to earn at least £77,000'
General Election 2015: Photographic history of Bullingdon Club tracked down - including new picture of David Cameron in his finery
In defence of liberal democracy
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
£30 - 40k (£65k Y1 OTE Uncapped): Guru Careers: We are seeking a Business Deve...
Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are looking for an ambitious and adaptable...
£30 - 40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Solutions Consultan...
£30 - 35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...