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[casi] UN tries to halt staff protest against attack,2763,917977,00.html

UN tries to halt staff protest against attack

Chris McGreal in Jerusalem
Thursday March 20, 2003
The Guardian

Kofi Annan's office has barred UN staff from open opposition to the war in
Mr Annan's chief of staff, Syed Iqbal Riza, has written to the heads of all
UN agencies to halt attempts to organise protests against the attack by
publicly expressing support for the authority of the security council and
the secretary general's efforts to avoid conflict.

"United Nations staff are, of course, entitled to personal views and
political convictions and their desire to be of assistance to the secretary
general is appreciated," he wrote in the letter, headed "possible
initiatives by UN staff for peacefully resolving the Iraq crisis".

But it goes on to add that "international civil servants ... do not have
the freedom of pri vate persons to take sides or to express their
convictions publicly on controversial matters, either individually or as
members of a group".

A senior UN official said there was considerable unhappiness within the
organisation at criticisms levelled by George Bush to justify bypassing the
security council.

"There is a feeling among many personnel that the US used the UN until it
didn't suit them and then they trash it," one senior UN official said.

"We cannot openly campaign against the war but we wanted to make a public
gesture - probably a petition - in support of Kofi Annan's efforts to
ensure the security council as a whole had the last word. But he does not
want a confrontation with the Americans on this."

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