U.N. Plans Overhaul of Its Security

From Reuters

The U.N. on Monday proposed a major overhaul of its security apparatus, including 778 new positions, in response to devastating safety reports after the 2003 bombing of its offices in Iraq.

In a report to the General Assembly, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the world body needed a new directorate of security, based in New York, to unify its myriad safety structures around the world.

“A degree of risk cannot be avoided,” he said. “The challenge is to mitigate it.”

The report did not give figures, but U.N. sources said Annan and his deputy, Louise Frechette, wanted to add 778 positions, including 33 in places where there is now no security staff.


Nearly 100 of the posts would be in New York.

The cost of the new jobs and needed equipment would be $97 million.

A year ago, a panel headed by former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari accused the United Nations of a catalog of security breaches it said had probably cost lives in the August 2003 bombing of U.N. headquarters in Baghdad. The attack killed 22 people.

One problem was that no one had overall responsibility. Annan’s report proposes a new unit at U.N. headquarters, headed by an undersecretary-general and including a “threat and risk analysis” section.

This directorate would have responsibility for security for 100,000 U.N. staff members and 300,000 dependents worldwide, including those from specialized relief agencies.

In each country, one security officer would be in charge. In nations with peacekeeping missions, security would have to be coordinated with commanders and the New York peacekeeping department, according to the report.

The report is being transmitted to General Assembly budget and management committees, which must rule on the proposals. Diplomats said the committees are likely to trim some of the costs.