Wednesday, March 4, 2009



March 4, 2009

Dr Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka has been replaced as the Director General of the UN office.

In her place, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, has appointed Mr Achim Steiner to the position effective March 1.

Steiner has been the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) since June 2006 — a position he will continue to retain.

In a brief dispatch from the UNON, Moon made the decision based on his policy of rotation among senior managers.

Anna Tibaijuka: Served as Director General of UN Nairobi office since 2006.

Tibaijuka will continue to serve as the Executive Director of the Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), a position she has held since 2002.

"The Secretary-General is grateful to Tibaijuka for the valuable support and direction that she has provided UNON during her tenure as Director General since 2006. He is counting on her continued leadership as Executive Director for UN-Habitat," read the statement by UN Director of Information Ega Musa at the Nairobi office.

The replacement was greeted with protests from hundreds of United Nations staff in Nairobi who staged a silent protest.

Some of the staff, who spoke to The Standard on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation, termed Tibaijuka’s replacement with Steiner as made in bad faith.

Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed Tibaijuka as Director General.

Efforts to get comment from Tibaijuka were fruitless as she was said to be in meetings most of the day.

Mr Musa confirmed the staff protest but said only few UN employees were involved.

He said the re-organisation of the UN office was the prerogative of the UN Secretary-General.

The President of the UN Nairobi Staff Union Rhoda Atana told journalists at the UN office that they had sent a protest letter to the secretary-general following his decision to replace Tibaijuka.

Worked tirelessly

Ms Atana said whereas they had no problem with Steiner they were disturbed by the process followed in Tibaijuka’s replacement.

"She has worked tirelessly to transform this duty station which she found in extreme problems," added the union leader.

Atana said staff had gained morale since Tibaijuka took over as Director General.

"Our dissatisfaction and concern is with the criteria, policy or yardstick used or followed in replacing her," said Atana.

She said with the replacement of Tibaijuka the issue of gender and geographical balance had been lost as she was the only woman who headed such an office.

Atana further said their dissatisfaction was also based with the contradiction of the move with that of the UN Secretary general’s management reforms, which emphasize performance, integrity, compliance and oversight as pillars to achieve results.

She said with the replacement of Tibaijuka the issue of gender and geographical balance had been lost as she was the only woman who headed such an office. Men head all the other two, in Geneva and Vienna.
Achim Steiner: Took over as Director General on March 1.

"Our gathering today will go down in history as an expression of dissatisfaction with the transition of UNON’s leadership that lacks respect for gender and diversity principles within the UN system," she said.

Tibaijuka has served as a member of the Commission for Africa established by British Prime Minister Tony Blair which resulted in the cancellation of debt for several African countries by the G8 Summit in 2005 at Glen Eagles, Scotland.

In July 2005 Annan appointed Tibaijuka as his Special Envoy on Human Settlements Issues in Zimbabwe following massive evictions of the poor in urban areas.

She is currently a member of the World Health Organisation Commission on the Social Determinants of Health.

Since 2002, Tibaijuka has been instrumental in promoting water, sanitation and slum upgrading globally and assisted the African Union to establish the African Ministerial Conference on Housing and Urban Development.

She also helped place urban poverty top on the agenda of similar regional bodies for Latin American and the Caribbean, as well as the Asia-Pacific.

In its unanimous decision to re-elect her for a second term at the UN-Habitat, the UN General Assembly noted her success in forging strategic partnerships with financial institutions for investment in housing and urban infrastructure. These include the UN-Habitat $570 million agreement with the African Development Bank and $500 million agreement with the Asian Development Bank.

Tibaijuka joined the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in Geneva in 1998 as director and special co-ordinator for the least developed, land-locked and Island countries.

She was in charge of capacity building for the World Trade Organisation, and assisted least developed counties for the first time ever, to forge a coherent and united negotiating position for their special trade interests.