New York

04 November 2003

Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on staff security

The Secretary-General is giving close attention to the Report of the Independent Panel on the Safety and Security of United Nations Personnel in Iraq, headed by Mr. Maarti Ahtisaari, former President of Finland.

In response to one of its main recommendations, the Secretary-General has established a team to determine accountability at all managerial levels at Headquarters and in the field to review responsibilities for relevant decisions prior to the attack on 19 August 2003 in Baghdad.

The team will be headed by Mr. Gerald Walzer, former Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees. The other members of the team will be Mr. Srinath Basnayake, former Director of the General Legal Division of OLA, Mr. Kevin Carty, Assistant Commissioner of the Irish National Police and Mr. Stuart Groves, Senior Security Manager, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva.

The team will hold its first organizational meeting very shortly, and Mr. Walzer has been asked to present its findings to the Secretary-General with the least possible delay. The team will determine its methodology and will interview those individuals, both UN officials and others, who it considers will be able to provide it the information it requires.

Mr. Ramiro Lopes da Silva, Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Iraq and Mr. Tun Myat, UN Security Coordinator, have asked to be relieved of their present responsibilities while the team conducts its work. Accordingly, the Secretary-General has decided that they will take special leave until mid-January, while remaining available to the team to provide relevant information. During this period, the Office of the United Nations Security Coordinator will be overseen by the Under-Secretary-General for Management, Ms. Catherine Bertini.