Experts begin in-depth investigation into UN security before Baghdad bombing

12 November 2003 –

An expert team launched an in-depth investigation today into what went wrong with United Nations security procedures prior to the devastating terrorist attack in August against UN headquarters in Baghdad after an international panel decried the current security management system as "dysfunctional."

The team, headed by Gerald Walzer, former Deputy UN High Commissioner for Refugees, is expected to complete its work by mid-January.

The four-member team was appointed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan last week "to determine accountability at all managerial levels at Headquarters and in the field to review responsibilities for relevant decisions" prior to the 19 August attack, which killed 22 people, including top envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello.

Mr. Annan acted after an independent panel he named under former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari concluded last month that "the current security management system is dysfunctional" and that "the UN security system failed adequately to analyze and utilize information made available to the system on threats against UN staff and premises."

"The security awareness within the country team did not match the hostile environment. The observance and implementation of security regulations and procedures were sloppy and non-compliance with security rules commonplace," the panel added.

The team's other members are Srinath Basnayake, former Director of the General Legal Division of the UN Office of Legal Affairs, Kevin Carty, Assistant Commissioner of the Irish National Police, and Stuart Groves, Senior Security Manager for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva.

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