Thursday, May 21, 2009
According to a troubling report in the Wall Street Journal today, the United Nations (UN) is struggling to figure out how to better deal with sexual harrassment claims filed by employees against other employees. UN workers have complained that the current process for investigating and resolving such cases is arbitrary, unfair, and mired in bureaucracy, which means cases can take years to be adjudicated. Complicating matters is the fact that many UN managers have diplomatic immunity and cannot be held liable for their actions in court. Thus, UN workers may only seek help through the internal UN processes. And when the accused resign before those processes can be completed, no action can be taken against them even if violations are found. Equality Now, a women's rights group, has complained to Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary General, about the problem. Partly as a result, the UN intends to change the way it handles all employees' complaints as of July 1. The new system will replace the current administrative panels and rulings by the UN Secretary General with a new UN Dispute Tribunal and UN Appeals Tribunal, which will be staffed with professional judges. Unfortunately, this new report will add fuel to the fire of those who believe the UN is ineffective and corrupt. The UN must demonstrate that it can change its ways and become more effective if it is to lead, especially in the area of international human rights.