Former Assistant Secretary General Criticizes U.N. for ‘Colossal Mismanagement’

Anthony Banbury speaks with the UN press corps, The United
Photograph by Albin Lohr-Jones—Pacific Press LightRocket via Getty Images

The United Nations assistant secretary general who led the organization’s efforts against Ebola has resigned—but he didn’t go quietly.

In an op-ed published in The New York Times, Anthony Banbury, who has worked for the U.N. for more than two decades, wrote that the organization is failing due to “colossal mismanagement.” He placed much of the blame on hiring practices bound up in red tape and decisions made on the basis of political expediency.

Banbury pointed toward the patterns of abuse and child rape that were committed by United Nations troops in the Central African Republic. He argued that the accused peacekeepers were troops from the Democratic Republic of Congo and from the Republic of Congo who were allowed to join the peacekeeping force—despite evidence they had committed abuses and rapes—due to “cynical political reasons.”

“I am hardly the first to warn that the United Nations bureaucracy is getting in the way of its peacekeeping efforts,” Banbury wrote. “But too often, these criticisms come from people who think the United Nations is doomed to fail. I come at it from a different angle: I believe that for the world’s sake we must make the United Nations succeed.”

In a press briefing Thursday afternoon, spokesman for the Secretary-General Stephane Dujarric said: “I think the organization, of course, can be challenging at times, but you know, when you talk about human resources system, when you talk about financing system, what the Secretary-General has been determined to do is bring the systems that we have at the United Nations in live with 21st century best practices.” He said that the transition can be “painful,” but said that there are accountability practices in place.

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