Investigations into alleged misconduct by UN-Habitat Executive Director Joan Clos have started in Nairobi after a formal complaint was made to the organisation’s headquarters in New York.
Mr Clos, a Spaniard who took over from Tanzania’s Anna Tibaijuka in 2010, has been accused of abusive behaviour, abuse of authority, harassment and discrimination.
The matter was brought to the attention of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on January 20, when Mr Setondji Roland Adjovi, a lawyer, wrote a letter and attached a list of names of 53 staff members from 37 countries.
“I am writing to you as head of the United Nations Secretariat, who supervises Mr Joan Clos, with a request to investigate the misconduct as alleged herein and take the necessary action,” Mr Adjovi wrote.
He said he had attached the list of names of 53 staff as a matter of public record as they were at a meeting on November 24, in which Mr Clos is said to have used abusive language.
In one case, he is accused of telling his juniors they were overpaid for doing nothing. In his country, he allegedly said, people saw the UN as “a good white man looking for a poor Negro to help”.
Wednesday, some of the employees protested an attempt by Mr Clos to get them to sign a petition saying they were not consulted when the letter to the headquarters was written.
Mr Adjovi, representing the agency’s staff, told the Nation he was aware of the petition and said it was meant to arm-twist the workers and create an impression those who did not sign were his clients. “If this persists, I will go to the (UN) Tribunal to have the matter properly dealt with.”
UN-Habitat spokesperson Gordon Weiss said the report was being treated as an allegation and that investigations were in progress.
“The allegations represent the views of an unknown and anonymous number of staff, and certainly not all those whose names were listed in the letter without consulting them. The UN is treating this as an allegation,” he said.