Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Yet another UN scandal.

UN: This time it's a rising star up the UN ranks that knows she is untouchable.

"An internal review of the United Nations office responsible for promoting and monitoring free elections throughout the world has found a string of management abuses at the agency, including humiliation of its staff, the misuse of agency funds and a willingness by the agency's leaders to tolerate sexual harassment. The scathing review, conducted by a Swiss-based management consulting company and detailed in a 22-page report, describes the agency, the Electoral Assistance Division, as an "unhealthy family." The division, part of the United Nations' Department of Political Affairs, is charged with the supervision of elections in Iraq and elsewhere.

...The review of the electoral division was particularly critical of Carina Perelli, a Uruguayan who is the division director. She had been considered one of the rising young stars at the United Nations and her office has been praised for its vigorous promotion of free and fair elections throughout the world.

The report faulted her management style and the culture it fostered. It said a political affairs officer and secretaries were "routinely used to carry out personal errands" for her and others who were in her "inner circle." The tasks included "driving them and their family members to and from various destinations and appointments, the payment of personal monthly bills and other similar tasks."

In interviews that the Swiss consulting firm conducted this past January and February with 29 current and former members of the division, staff members complained about "public humiliation of individual staff members," "blatant favoritism," and the use of travel funds for unjustified travel, particularly to Latin America, by inner circle members. The employees also told of a culture of fear in which abused or sexually harassed employees were too frightened of retribution to protest treatment that many described as "emotionally devastating." Several of those interviewed said Ms. Perelli often told them: "There's nothing they can do to me. I'm the youngest D2, a woman from a developing country," the report states, referring to the highest-ranking director status, just below that of an assistant secretary general."

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