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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Head OF UN Security in Algeria Resigns

In Algiers Bombing Fall-Out, Veness Resigns, But Confidential Report Points Further

UNITED NATIONS, June 24 -- More than six months after the deadly bombing of UN premises in Algiers, the UN on Tuesday released a redacted version of its follow-up report, and announced the resignation of its head of security, David Veness. The initial report is now online here, analyzed here and below. Even the redacted report issued by the UN raises questions of accountability. It states for example "the Designated Official was neither forceful nor persistent with the Algerian authorities to insist on the security measures requested of the Government." (Page 25).

This Designated Officer was, in fact, an official of the UN Development Program, Marc de Bernis. As is so often the case with UNDP, de Bernis not only didn't press the host country government in any way -- he allowed himself and the UN system safety issues to be marginalized. The UN-release report states:

"As noted in the preliminary DSS report on the 11 December 2007 attack, all contact by the UN Designated Official for Security (DO) and the Security Adviser (SA) with the national security authorities occurred through the Director General for Protocol (DGP) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). This restricted contact with security agencies was not limited to the UN; diplomatic missions in Algiers also conduct their security relations through the DGP/MFA. This is the practice in a number of other countries."

Having access to the preliminary DSS report, we find in paragraph 7 that there was an exception, for "large embassies." Why didn't the UN, with multiple agencies represented in Algeria, get for itself as much access as large embassies of its member states?

The Rest @ Innercity Press
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

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