UN tries to halt staff protest against attack

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Posted by andreas from dtm2-t9-2.mcbone.net ( on Thursday, March 20, 2003 at 2:30PM :

UN tries to halt staff protest against attack

Chris McGreal in Jerusalem
Thursday March 20, 2003
The Guardian

Kofi Annan's office has barred UN staff from open opposition to the war in Iraq.
Mr Annan's chief of staff, Syed Iqbal Riza, has written to the heads of all UN agencies to halt attempts to organise protests against the attack by publicly expressing support for the authority of the security council and the secretary general's efforts to avoid conflict.

"United Nations staff are, of course, entitled to personal views and political convictions and their desire to be of assistance to the secretary general is appreciated," he wrote in the letter, headed "possible initiatives by UN staff for peacefully resolving the Iraq crisis".

But it goes on to add that "international civil servants ... do not have the freedom of pri vate persons to take sides or to express their convictions publicly on controversial matters, either individually or as members of a group".

A senior UN official said there was considerable unhappiness within the organisation at criticisms levelled by George Bush to justify bypassing the security council.

"There is a feeling among many personnel that the US used the UN until it didn't suit them and then they trash it," one senior UN official said.

"We cannot openly campaign against the war but we wanted to make a public gesture - probably a petition - in support of Kofi Annan's efforts to ensure the security council as a whole had the last word. But he does not want a confrontation with the Americans on this."

-- andreas
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