Global perspective Human stories

UN staff union leaders in Geneva voice 'full confidence' in Secretary-General

UN staff union leaders in Geneva voice 'full confidence' in Secretary-General

The leaders of the 4,000-strong United Nations staff union in Geneva today voiced their "full confidence" in Secretary-General Kofi Annan after counterparts in New York raised concerns over UN senior management.

A statement issued after an extraordinary meeting of the Executive Bureau of the Staff Coordinating Council in Geneva expressed alarm at the media's incorrect interpretation of the New York Staff Union's position last week concerning the issue of integrity and accountability related to recent incidents involving senior officials.

The Council also expressed its "full confidence in and support of the Secretary-General."

Asked whether the Secretary-General would resign following last Friday's Staff Council resolution expressing dissatisfaction with senior management, Mr. Annan's spokesman, Fred Eckhard, said, "Let's not get ridiculous," adding that a resignation was "out of the question."

The Secretary-General, he said, is the chief executive officer of the United Nations and will have to deal with complaints about management. "Does the buck stop with him? Of course it does," Mr. Eckhard said, but the Secretary-General will not resign.

Responding to questions at the daily press briefing about the Friday vote, Mr. Eckhard said that it had been misreported by some media. The draft resolution had said that the Staff Council wanted to draw the Secretary-General's and General Assembly's attention to their lack of confidence in management, not that they lacked confidence in the Secretary-General.

Furthermore, the spokesman said, the resolution that was adopted deleted all of that language, and the President of the Staff Council, Rosemarie Waters, later told a television crew that she had the utmost confidence in the Secretary-General. Today's statement from the Geneva staff offered a similar sentiment, he noted.

Asked whether the resolution had been watered down because of pressure from UN management, the spokesman said that allegation was false. Chef de Cabinet Iqbal Riza spoke to Ms. Waters on Friday about discussing the Staff Council's grievances, and there was no pressure on her to change the resolution.

Asked whether Mr. Riza would meet with the Staff Council this week, Mr. Eckhard said that management would provide people to meet with the Council if they wanted a meeting this week. He noted that Under-Secretary-General for Management, Catherine Bertini, would not be available this week.