Friday, February 18, 2005

UN: Ruud Lubbers, the UN's high commissioner for refugees was found guilty of sexual harrassment in a secret report obtained by the Independent.

"Ruud Lubbers, the UN's high commissioner for refugees, was found guilty of misconduct involving sexual harassment by an official investigation carried out by the UN's watchdog, it can be revealed. The secret document has never before been released. Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, took internal and external legal advice after studying the 15-page report on the allegations, before deciding he was unable to take action against Mr Lubbers. Instead, he issued him with a strong warning about his conduct. As high commissioner, Mr Lubbers, 65, formerly the longest serving Dutch prime minister, is responsible for marshalling the aid effort for the world's 17 million refugees. The investigation ­ carried out by the UN's office for internal oversight services (OIOS) ­ began after a complaint of sexual harassment by a female employee at the refugee agency. She alleged Mr Lubbers placed his hands on her waist, pulled her back towards him and pressed his groin into her at the end of a meeting with male colleagues in Geneva on 18 December 2003. In its note to the secretary general, the report says: "Mr Lubbers did engage in unwanted physical contact with a subordinate female staff member. New allegations that came to the OIOS's attention during the investigation were also examined and indicate a pattern of sexual harassment by Mr Lubbers." It continues: "OIOS is also of the view that Mr Lubbers abused his authority as high commissioner by his intense, pervasive and intimidating attempts to influence the outcome of this investigation."

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