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United Nations Prepares to Name New Oversight Chief

  • Larry Freund

The United Nations is preparing to appoint a new official to oversee its office investigating internal wrongdoing and corruption. The previous head of that office left the post earlier this month, sharply criticizing U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for allegedly interfering with the independence of the oversight office.

The U.N. spokesperson for Mr. Ban refused to confirm news reports that the United Nations is naming a former auditor general for the World Bank to run the U.N.'s internal oversight division. But the spokesperson, Martin Nesirky, said he expects the announcement of an appointment to come during the next few days. He added that there is overwhelming support for the candidate, who will be named by the secretary-general. The nomination requires approval by the U.N. General Assembly.

The expected nomination of a new chief of the U.N.'s Office of Internal Oversight Services is the latest development in a controversy that erupted when a Swedish auditor, Inga-Britt Ahlenius, recently left the job at the end of her five-year term.

A lengthy and sharply worded end-of assignment report by Ahlenius, leaked to reporters, charges that there is no transparency and no accountability at the United Nations. She accuses the secretary-general of undermining the oversight office. And she says she is concerned that the United Nations is in a process of decline and reduced relevance.

U.N. spokesperson Nesirky is critical of the report by the former U.N. auditor.

"When you have an end-of-assignment report that misrepresents any number of topics and introduces any number of inaccuracies, they need to be addressed very clearly," said Nesirky. "And they are being and will continue to be addressed very clearly."

In another development, the United Nations says it is already reviewing its ability to investigate itself. A memorandum from Mr. Ban's chief of staff also says the secretary-general is committed to building a strong, more flexible and accountable organization.