Iraq's Odious Debts

New Zealand author of damning book on UN to lose job

New Zealand Herald
December 14, 2004

A New Zealand doctor and United Nations employee who co-wrote a book exposing sex, drugs and corruption among UN peacekeeping forces says he is being sacked.

Andrew Thomson wrote Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures, A True Story from Hell on Earth, along with former co-worker Kenneth Cain, and current UN employee Heidi Postlewait.

Published in June, the book talks about alleged corruption and failed leadership that contributed to disasters in Rwanda in 1994 and in Bosnia at about the same time.

Dr Thomson said it was scandalous that a million people were killed in those countries and not a single official was investigated or disciplined.

He said Mr Cain had also documented allegations of mass rape by peacekeepers while working in Liberia.

Dr Thomson said his contract with the UN has not been renewed and his employment will terminate at the end of the year.

Speaking on National Radio this morning from Washington, Dr Thomson said his looming termination didn’t come as a surprise, but sent a terrible message.

Referring to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Dr Thomson said: “On the one hand you can be in charge of the peacekeepers, as he was in the ’90s when these catastrophes happened, and get promoted to the top job in the organisation.

“But if, like myself, you work in those mass graves with the result of those catastrophes and then write about it, with the stories of all the victims and survivors I worked with, you get fired.

“If that’s the message they’re sending then I have more concerns for the United Nations than I have for myself.”

Dr Thomson said his contract had previously been renewed every year for the past 12-years, but a recent letter saying it would not be renewed didn’t give any reasons.

He said there was a strong code of silence in the UN. While still loyal to the organisation, he was no longer loyal to its leadership.

He said he could fight the decision through the organisation’s internal system, but wasn’t confident it would go his way, or use a public interest law group to defend his write to “blow the whistle” – which he was doing.

But in the end it would probably come down to a political decision by Mr Annan himself, he said.

Dr Thomson said he would continue his aid work, but with another organisation.

“I won’t become bitter about this. I hold out hope for the future of the UN in the long term, but they’re heading about it in the wrong way if they kick out the very people who remain loyal to them.”

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