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Last Updated: Saturday, 19 February, 2005, 01:25 GMT
Lubbers defiant over UN sex claim
By Susannah Price
BBC News, United Nations

Ruud Lubbers
Ruud Lubbers says the allegations are unsubstantiated
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Ruud Lubbers, has denied allegations of sexual harassment contained in a confidential internal UN report.

Mr Lubbers said the claims were slanderous and he would not step down.

His comments came after the UK's Independent newspaper published details of a UN internal report which accused him of a pattern of sexual harassment.

A spokesman said UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and Mr Lubbers had discussed his future with the UN on Friday.

Speaking after his meeting with Mr Annan, Mr Lubbers said the allegations contained in the report were "slander" and unsubstantiated.

Strong concern

He said Mr Annan had not asked him to go and insisted he will only leave when his current five-year term expires at the end of the year.

The confidential report said that Mr Lubbers had engaged in unwanted physical contact with the female staff member at the refugee agency's headquarters in Geneva.

It said allegations made by other employees indicated a pattern of sexual harassment, although these women did not make official complaints.

There were two witnesses in the room who quite clearly saw that I ushered the lady out of the room with my hand on her back and that was all
Ruud Lubbers

It had also accused the high commissioner of abusing his authority in trying to influence the outcome of the investigation.

After seeing the final report last year and consulting lawyers, Mr Annan decided the charges were not backed up by the evidence.

However, he did express his strong concern about the incident to Mr Lubbers.

Mr Lubbers said on Friday: "The secretary general studied the material... also the report and came to the conclusion that my answer was convincing and therefore he closed the case.

"It was convincing because there were two witnesses in the room who quite clearly saw that I ushered the lady out of the room with my hand on her back and that was all."

Mr Lubbers said Mr Annan had not asked him to resign at their meeting.

However, the secretary general's office issued a statement saying the "main focus was Mr Lubbers' future in the organisation".

The allegations have resurfaced at a time when the UN is already under fire following accusations of mismanagement and corruption in its oil-for-food programme in Iraq and of sexual abuse by peacekeepers in the Congo.

US presses Annan over sex claim
04 Nov 04 |  Europe
Lubbers cleared of UN sex claim
15 Jul 04 |  Europe

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