Top UN Refugee Official Charged For Sexual Harassment

A top United Nations official resigned his post after a report detailing a pattern of sexual harassment against his female employees was released by the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services. According to the Washington Post, the investigation of Ruud Lubbers, the UN high commissioner for refugees, began in May 2004 after a woman filed a complaint against Lubbers, stating that he grabbed her by the waist and pressed his groin against her.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan failed to discipline Lubbers in July even after receiving supporting evidence that Lubbers was involved in sexually harassing his female employees, angering staff members at the UN. A senior staff member expressed her disappointment, saying, “The whole office felt betrayed because [Annan] had not taken a clear position,” reports the New York Times.

Earlier this month, United Nations peacekeepers stationed in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) were banned from having sex with local residents as a result of allegations of widespread sexual abuse of women and girls by peacekeepers. Cases of girls being sexually abused by UN peacekeepers in the DRC began surfacing early last year. The UN Office of Internal Oversight Services found that UN troops paid women and girls food and money in return for sex.


Washington Post 2/19/05; Reuters 2/20/05; New York Times 2/21/05

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